(Michigan City, IN - An individual critically wounded in a shooting at the lakefront in Michigan City over the Memorial Day weekend has local tourism officials a bit alarmed.
Jack Arnett, Executive Director of the LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he plans to speak with the police and mayor’s office about any plans to address the shooting at the lakefront and the continued use of gunfire in the community.
Arnett said negative perceptions of any city are a significant issue in the tourism industry. Law enforcement responding to the latest act of gun violence will help ensure residents and visitors continue feeling safe in Michigan City.
“It’s concerning. We don’t want that kind of image certainly for our county,” Arnett said.
According to police, officers at about 4 p.m. on Sunday responded to reports of shots fired on the beach at Washington Park near Stop 2. The shooting victim was located and transported to Franciscan Health hospital in Michigan City with life-threatening injuries. The name and age of the victim were not released.
Police said officers canvassed the area but reported no arrests.
Officials were already concerned about increased shootings and gunfire throughout the community the few years before the lakefront shooting. For example, the police department recently implemented Violent Crime Reduction Patrols to combat the use of guns.
Recent successes included the arrest of a juvenile for possessing a handgun after three teenagers wearing ski masks were spotted displaying firearms on the city’s west side.
For example, Arnett said more police visibility at entrances to Washington Park might be an excellent way to reassure visitors they’re safe and discourage future gun use.
Whatever is done needs to happen quickly to prevent another gun-related incident, especially at the lakefront, to avoid a negative image from developing. So far, Arnett said the uptick in gun violence over the past few years or occasional lakefront shooting doesn’t seem to have impacted local tourism, judging by the continued rise in demand for bed and breakfasts and short-term rental homes.
Arnett said the designation of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as a National Park in 2019 is a primary factor in the increased number of visitors.
“We’ll get with law enforcement and the administration to see what the plans will be to make sure people feel safe when they come here. We have a great community, and those things can’t affect all of the good things that are happening,” he said.