Impact of 2010 murder still lingers in the Bottom

By: Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -The Times Dispatch is reporting the man on trial for one of the two murders in Shockoe Bottom last year was found guilty in the second homicide case.

Franklin Wayne Taylor's trial lasted just two days. A jury found Taylor guilty of voluntary manslaughter in last May's shooting death of 23-year-old Reshawn Thurman. Almost a year later, businesses and neighbors in the Bottom are hoping they can finally move forward.

Closure might be easier said than done in Shockoe Bottom. Shawn Gregory owns the Halligan Bar and Grill in the 17th Street Farmers' Market.

"We really want people to know what the positives are in Shockoe Bottom," he said. "There's a lot of emphasis that's put on the negatives but believe me, Shockoe Bottom is not a bad word."

For the last year though, it hasn't been easy to be a business owner in the bottom. In many ways crime and the increased police presence our cameras have captured have been a PR nightmare. A nightmare, Gregory hopes will end with Friday's conviction of Franklin Taylor.

Taylor was arrested after 23-year-old Reshawn Thurman was found shot to death next to his car in a parking lot last May. It was the second murder in the bottom in about a week.

Jody Slack, whose son lives in the Bottom, says some of the "bad rap" comes from "bad news." As a parent, it's a perception she's familiar with.

"I think the media has played it up so much that people are staying away and it is a shame," she said. "I'm right there with them; I get it. I understand what their concerns are."

Slack says her son loves the Bottom and understands there is a price that comes with living in a city. Gregory, on the other hand, wants to show people that downside, is only a small part of what goes on here.

"It's just going to be great when everybody sees that forward moment and can come back downtown and enjoy a day in an urban environment," he said.

The phrase: one step forward two steps back seems to hit home in the Bottom. Last month's videotaped beating has raised eyebrows once again. Gregory is hoping police make an arrest in that case in the near future.

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