Gun violence, Midtown's worst nightmare and what's next after Joseph A. Long's killing

When I wrote the headline “Battle for Midtown continues” on a news report from last Thursday’s issue, I never imagined that, days later, I’d be reading about an actual gang shootout on the same block featured in my story.

But now, the &8220;battle&8221; is more than just a feud between residents and the city’s late-night bars and clubs. Now, there’s a victim: Joseph A. Long, who found himself early Saturday morning at the wrong place, a parking lot near 28th and J streets, at the wrong time, 12:35 a.m. The deadly crossfire of two idiot crews playing gangbanger killed the 32 year old. A Midtowner’s worst nightmare.

Long’s shooting, of course, elicits memories of Second Saturday in September 2010: I was on another popular Midtown street corner, 20th and J, just after midnight, when gunshots silenced the block. I sprinted toward cop cars’ flashing lights, then saw Victor Hugo Perez Zavala lying motionless on the sidewalk.

(By chance, just weeks before Zavala’s murder, I’d written my original &8220;Battle for Midtown&8221; SN&R story.)

So, Midtown, where do we go from here?

I won’t jump into the blame-game fray. But city police and the Sutter Business Improvement Area—which works with the bars, restaurants and clubs on J Street’s 2700 block and already spends a whopping 40 percent of its annual budget on security—need to try something new. Whether patrons are to blame or not for this shooting, the strip has seen too many brawls and fights this summer.

Residents, meanwhile, are using Long’s death as occasion to push even harder for disbanding the block’s boozy party scene. But they should be wary of pinning the shootout on the bars. It’s the guns. It’s the guns. It’s the guns.

I have no solutions. But, as a Midtowner who was walking home late Saturday night, I’m worried.