‘We will be harmed by this,’ says Seminole Heights business owner after 4th murder

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The drop of business for some small business owners in Seminole Heights is getting worse.

Many owners are worried that their life’s work could be in jeopardy after Ronnie Felton, the fourth victim, was killed Tuesday.

LaJuanda Barrera believes the recent violence is casting a dark cloud over the neighborhood. She owns Moates Florist, which is yards from where Tampa police say an unknown gunman murdered Felton.

“We will be harmed by this,” Barrera said.

She says the business has been open since 1901 and now she’s worried that it isn’t quite blossoming as much as it was six weeks ago.

“The fear is truly out there and that fear is costing us business,” Barrera said.

She says customers have been avoiding the area due to unsolved shootings that recently occurred.

“When people were calling and they looked us up, I no longer say ‘Moates Florist in Seminole Heights.’ I refrain from saying that during all of this,” Barrera said.

That’s out of the ordinary for her because she says she loves the neighborhood, which is a place filled with home grown businesses.

“It’s almost like a little Cheers, you know everybody, everybody knows your name,” Natalia Mendez said.

Mendez works as a manager down the street from Moates at Old Heights Bistro. She says she walked her son to school through the police barricade Tuesday.

Mendez says the bistro is also taking a hit financially but they rely on regular customers who are loyal.

“This was the first time that I did feel, I felt threatened,” Mendez said.

Owners in the area are pushing forward and are hoping that this ordeal will soon come to an end.

“I just want the community to know that we’re not only going to get through this but we’re going to come out and be stronger and better. I do believe that in my heart,” Barrera said.

Barrera says she plans to display large banners in front of her store reading “Seminole Heights Strong.” She’s also working to install HD security cameras around her property.

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