MANCHESTER — News of a deadly standoff made Maureen Cunningham even more uneasy about visiting the Queen City.
“It scares me to come to Manchester anymore,” Cunningham said Thursday outside Aldi Food Market, not far from the standoff at the Quality Inn off South Willow Street.
“I think things are getting pretty bad in Manchester with drugs and what’s going on,” said Cunningham, who moved from Manchester to Epsom but still comes to shop in the Queen City.
News of the standoff was broadcast by media from Boston and beyond, which damages the city’s reputation, according to Rosemary Ridge, walking her dog, Rosie, on Pleasant Street downtown.
“It makes the city seem unsafe,” she said.
Ridge said she lives on West Merrimack Street, a neighborhood where she has felt safe for the past 19 years.
“I know it’s not true for all of the city,” she said.
The overnight standoff at the Quality Inn on John E. Devine Drive left three people dead. One man died after a shoot-out with police Wednesday evening, and two other people holed up in a first-floor room were later found dead. Officials declared the situation resolved around 10:20 a.m. Thursday.
The three deaths come after Manchester recorded two homicides last month.
Shawn Mack said the standoff would not keep him from visiting the city.
“It’s probably going to take a lot more than a couple shootings to keep me out of the city,” said Mack, who visits Manchester for shopping, dining and arena events.
Mayor Joyce Craig put out a statement and appeared at a news conference with authorities.
“This event serves as a reminder of the occasional danger we face in this great city,” the mayor said. Her office declined to make her available for an interview.
Crime statistics released last month showed serious crime was down 3 percent in 2018 and violent crime decreased 9 percent over 2017, according to Manchester police. There were five homicides in 2018 compared to two the previous year.
News spread to people attending a conference for the American Camp Association New England at the DoubleTree by Hilton.
Vermont resident Megan Chamberlain, who grew up in Amherst, said she has attended ACA conferences for the past 15 years in Manchester and said the city “hasn’t changed” to her.
“It happens more often in a lot of other cities,” Chamberlain said.
She was sitting outside the DoubleTree with fellow attendee Tori Heller of Vermont.
“I grew up in D.C. where shootings were pretty normal, people shooting each other,” Heller said.
Scott Colby, parked on a bench on Elm Street, lives nearby on Pine Street.
“I feel it’s pretty safe,” he said.
Barbara Warren, who lives on Manchester’s east side, said the city is declining.
“There’s no good section of Manchester anymore,” she said outside Aldi.
“I think we’re allowing too many immigrants into the city,” and city leaders are putting too much focus on helping opioid users.
“There’s so many more street people and panhandlers,” Warren said.
The standoff meant customers couldn’t reach dozens of businesses along a section of South Willow Street north of Interstate 293 as well as on John E. Devine Drive.
Five Guys and Starbucks remained closed past noontime, even after that section of road had reopened by 11 a.m.
Aldi Food Market opened at noon, three hours later than normal.
“Hopefully, we’ll make it up this afternoon,” said shift manager Mike Levesque, who estimated the store would have lost thousands of dollars in gross sales in those hours.
London Kerr had driven a tractor-trailer from New Jersey with nine new cars, five that had to be dropped off at the Quirk auto dealership on South Willow. He arrived in Manchester at 9 a.m.
With South Willow closed, he pulled into the parking lot behind Jokers Sports Bar & Bistro and South Side Tavern. Kerr, who lives in Windsor, Conn., decided to unload the cars destined for Quirk. Halfway through, South Willow Street opened. He then had to reload the cars and drive to Quirk.
He said a normal drop-off would take 20 minutes. “It’s just going to be a longer day,” he said.
As for a criminal act disrupting his schedule, Kerr said: “This is the first time for me.”