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Downtown Pittsburgh business owners demand more security after intern attacked by stranger

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The owners of a downtown Pittsburgh business are speaking out after one of their interns was attacked by a stranger.

“It’s time to do something. We see it. It’s summer, it’s not safe down here,” said Courtney Gumpf, co-owner of Flying Scooter Productions.

In 2017, the branding agency and film studio opened a store on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Smithfield Street in downtown Pittsburgh. Seven years later, Gumpf says, so much has changed.

“We are outraged by what has happened in recent years. We have just seen a rise not only in homelessness, but also in violence, crime and drug dealing right on our doorstep,” Gumpf said.

Last Wednesday, the 18-year-old Flying Scooter Productions intern was attacked on Smithfield Street toward Sixth Avenue. The victim, Sofia Mancing, returned to work on Monday.

She is one of many young people the company employs as part of its human resources development program.

“It’s not right or safe to ask high school and college students to come here now, and that’s a big part of the economy,” Gumpf said. “We want to stimulate the economy.”

For them and others, it has become more difficult. Some businesses have moved out of the city centre, especially those on Smithfield Street, where there are empty shops and boarded-up stores.

“Our goal would be to stay down here. But at this point, if things go the way they are, that is absolutely not possible for us, and that is sad,” said Gumpf.

In response to the Smithfield attack, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Lee Schmidt issued a statement last Thursday that read in part:

“Pittsburgh welcomes tens of thousands of people attending large events during the summer months. Throughout all of this time, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Pittsburgh Bureau of EMS and Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire will continue to work hand in hand to ensure the safety of all Pittsburgh spectators.”

“I think sometimes we focus on the big events, and that’s great,” Gumpf said. “People should feel safe when they visit the city. But the people who work and live here need to feel safe, because without them the city wouldn’t be what it is today.”

“It’s not about politics,” Gumpf added. “It’s really about people, and downtown businesses are the tax base that drives the city.”

Flying Scooter Productions is calling on people who live and work in downtown Pittsburgh to come together to talk about safety.