A community is responding to a brazen armed robbery near a popular Stockton movie theater Sunday night.
"If we were there, that wouldn't have happened," Stockton Guardian Angel's Regional Director Sean Rodgers said.
Stockton Police told FOX40 that two women were robbed at gunpoint at 7 p.m. Sunday, just after walking out of the Regal Cinema City Center 16 theater on North El Dorado Street. Police said a man pointed a semi-automatic handgun into their car and demanded their belongings, making away with a purse.
Many moviegoers find the crime shocking, since the shopping center near the theater is both well-lit and heavily traveled during that hour.
"The mayor has all these great ideas for activities downtown. There's a lot more people there, a lot more activities with that. And so there's going to be more crime. People are gonna go there to do their dirty work that they think they can get away with," Rodgers said.
As soon as the Guardian Angels heard about the violent robbery, they gathered at the movie theater Monday evening, in a show of solidarity.
"To act as a visual deterrent. It really does work," Rodgers said.
Rodgers said turning the city's reputation around not only relies on redeveloping downtown, but on a significant decrease in crime.
People who live near the downtown plaza had mixed reactions about that happening.
"A lot of our family from out of town won't even come out here because they feel like it's too dangerous. But I think it can turn around, with time," Javonna Wright said.
"Honestly, I don't know what can be done, because so many people here have that mentality of I don't care. I'll do what I want. There's nothing you can do to change that mentality," Kaitlin Ledesma said.
"It's sad. Stockton was a nice place. And it still can be, it still can be."