Businesses calling for more transparency after violent assault on a downtown employee

NOW: Businesses calling for more transparency after violent assault on a downtown employee

SOUTH BEND, Ind., --- A convicted killer, who was paroled, is now behind bars again after he was accused of raping, physically assaulting and robbing a downtown South Bend Ambassador at gunpoint. Now, some frustrated downtown businesses spoke out to ABC57 saying they weren’t informed about the incident until weeks later.

Dennis Jones was charged and arrested late October for the attack back in August.

Local business owners ABC57 spoke with said they were upset they weren’t informed about the incident right when it happened.

“I was sick to my stomach, I worry about the girls all the time,” said Duwana Bivens, the General Manager South Bend Chocolate Café.

Bivens said she was still concerned about her employee's safety.

Her cafe is just a block away from where the South Bend ambassador said she was approached by a man on South Michigan Street dressed in a similar uniform to other ambassadors.

She said the man attacked her at gunpoint on August 21st.

“That’s one of the reasons why I keep pushing the buddy system with them unfortunately there’s not a lot of adult male presence at night,” said Bivens.

Bivens said she was not only uneasy about the attack, but fact that nearby businesses weren’t informed by DTSB until 16 days later.

In the email they sent out informing businesses they also asked them to keep the incident confidential to protect the integrity of the investigation.

Something that raised concerns especially with the suspect still on the loose for two months before his arrest.

“We should’ve known immediately I found out because of my employees, they seen it on the web before we were notified so that was extremely upsetting,” said Bivens.

“It was very alarming but I would’ve also liked if they would’ve put it out a little sooner so that we could be more alert knowing that something like that happened,” added Jackie Reed who works downtown.

Nearby businesses like the Chocolate Cafe tell me they upped their own security measures following the attack.

“Immediately afterwards we stopped letting the young girls take out trash at night we were doing it in the mornings and then I made the buddy system come true because they’re not allowed to do anything in the building without someone,” said Bivens.

They’re also asking city leaders for more transparency about these kinds of incidents especially when it comes to safety.

“I would hope that if something like this happens again that they would go out of their way to let all of us know immediately so we can step up security,” added Bivens.

ABC57 did reach out to DTSB, but we were not able to get an interview or statement.

South Bend Police Department referred us to SVU who declined an interview along with the mayor’s office.

However, the Mayor’s office did tell us:

The mayor is proud of South Bend Police’s efforts to share information with the public, as part of their work to protect our residents from active threats.

Businesses also told us the city did offer them ways to help improve their security.

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