Downtown safety in question after couple attacked

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A brutal attack early Friday morning is raising questions about security in Downtown Memphis.

Memphis Police Department said it would be increasing patrols in Downtown Memphis after a couple was jumped while walking to their car at Main Street and Exchange Avenue, next to the Cook Convention Center and Sheraton hotel.

County commissioners are already looking into hiring security consultants to investigate crowd control solutions.

Croatian Renato Augustinovic is visiting Memphis from his home in Texas.

"It's a city center, so I would expect it's safe here," Augustinovic said.

He was shocked to learn about Friday's attack that sent two people to the hospital in critical condition.

Augustinovic is glad he and his wife weren't involved. He said they were sleeping at the time.

Security on Beale Street remains under the microscope, despite the fact that Friday's attack did not happen specifically on Beale Street. The Beale Street Task Force said it wants to bring in a consultant to study ways to make the street safer.

The task force is currently deciding how much money to spend on a safety consultant; it's completing the process of bidding on the contractor.

Controversy has surrounded Beale Street safety for years, with some council members saying the Beale Street Bucks cover charge is unfair, though MPD has consistently supported it.

"A security consultant in crowd dynamics should take a look at the look at street before the task force makes its formal recommendations to city council," said task force chair Berlin Boyd in a statement.

Augustinovic said he and his wife felt safe overall in Downtown Memphis, although people in Nashville tried to tell them otherwise.

"They gave us advice that it's not so safe here than in Nashville, so we should be more careful," Augustinovic said.

We did reach out to the mayor's office for a comment and have yet to hear back.

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