Bemis Park reflects on Friday's burning and...

Posted at 6:50 PM, May 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-10 19:55:10-04
It’s a community struggle that’s been going on for decades to maintain the history, peace and beauty of Bemis Park.
A homicide investigation continues from Friday when a stabbing, flames and gunfire happened near 41st and Hamilton after reports of someone pouring gasoline on another person.
Officers struggled to get into the home after seeing flames and had to fire gunshots into the door to get it open.
A man later died, but was not hit by bullets.
Those who live nearby say that crime scene casts a shadow on years of work to improve the neighborhood.
John Hargiss describes the Bemis Park neighborhood as one of the nicer historic neighborhoods in the area.
The guitar shop owner says things are usually calm, but when crime happens it’s extreme.
“You don’t see the abuse, you don’t see the violence here, but when it happens, it’s astronomical,” Hargiss said.
Since Bemis Park is usually calm, incidents like Friday’s affect the neighborhood, Hargiss said.
“There’s a stigma,” he said. “There’s a shadow that lies in the balance here that hangs heavy here.”
That Stigma, Hargiss said, creates a sense of helplessness among several in the area.
“We’re in a blighted area that’s kind of misplaced,” Hargiss said. 
Local artist Paul Gennardo and Walnut Hill Neighborhood President Jeannie Dickes work to maintain the beauty and peace in Bemis Park.
Gennardo lives next door to a home that burned a week before the recent homicide.
“It’s malnourished,” Gennardo said. “It’s people who need assistance. It’s people who are relying on themselves and they may not have the tools.”
Hargiss has purchased 10 buildings in the area over four years, including Hargiss Instruments, which was an old shopping complex built in the 1800s that included a Vaudeville theatre, bar and shops.
“When I moved here I didn’t understand what all the concern was about,” he said. “Based on what people were saying, thought I moved into murderville. Then after awhile I didn’t understand why people say that because it’s usually calm around here and there are a lot of good people doing good things.”
When homicide happens, Hargiss said it can feel like the area is left out to dry.
“We feel helpless,” he said. “What do we do? We deal with an elusive landlord. We deal with an elusive city council member who cannot come over and just communicate with us.”
Councilman Ben Gray represents Bemis Park and said Monday he would reach out to Hargiss.