From public intoxication to drive-by shootings, Welch Avenue is a hot spot for Ames and Iowa State police.
The bar district is patrolled by foot and by car to ensure the safety of the community, with heightened patrol on weekends. During the day, Welch appears to be a quiet street with the occasional student walking home from class. At night, it becomes one of the highest-rated crime streets in Ames where people go to drink and socialize, which occasionally ends in a police call.
“As far as our presence is concerned, it is one of the most policed areas,” said Jason Tuttle, investigation commander of the Ames Police Department.
According to an Ames police report, seven offenses occurred Oct. 20. on Welch Avenue. The reports began coming in at 7:49 p.m. and didn’t end until 2:06 a.m. Four of the reports were dealing with intoxication, two reports claimed disorderly conduct and one report claimed general assault. Two arrests were made that morning at around 2 a.m. against two males, ages 21 and 24, for public intoxication.
According to Tuttle, public intoxication, operating under the influence and suspicious activity are three of the main offenses officers make arrests for in the bar district.
“Weekends are the most popular time for us to get called,” Tuttle said.
On several occasions, police have broken up bar fights.
“People get in scuffles, people get stabbed,” Tuttle said.
Tuttle said he recalls times when people have gotten their jaws broken due to fights with another group.
According to Tuttle, back in February of 2017 around 2 a.m., police foot-patrolled the street, watching for any suspicious activity, when a car pulled up and an officer who had patrolled that night recalled witnessing “a man pull out a gun and start shooting into the crowd.”
A few bystanders were struck during the drive-by, leading to two victims being taken to Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames and one victim being taken to a hospital in Des Moines. It is unknown whether or not the victims were Iowa State students.
Officers shot at the people in the car, leading to the offenders fleeing the scene.
Tuttle said they fled to Fort Dodge, soon to be tracked down by police.
Two men around the age of 20 were charged with attempted murder. Another two were charged with abetting attempted murder.
The shooting that occurred two years ago does not deter many people from going on Welch today.
The future for Welch Avenue could soon see security cameras that will allow Ames Police Department to go back and look at footage from previous night's activities.
“Ames police have been wanting the city to put up security cameras for a while now,” Tuttle said.
Recently, the city agreed to allow cameras to be put up on the street.
Tuttle said that they are hoping the cameras will allow the police to go back and look at footage if an occurrence were to happen that they didn’t see or needed to check on again. The hope is the presence of cameras on Welch lead to a stronger deterrence in criminal activity, cutting down on crime overall.