Neighbors look forward to motel renovations after murder

Local News

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Neighbors of Bahama Beach Motel said the most popular crime at the complex is the use and exchange of drugs.

On Tuesday night, 32-year-old Hunter Howard Smith allegedly sold narcotics to a man at Bahama Beach Motel and ended in a shooting where police said the victim was buying drugs.

“Drugs and guns never mix. You know, they always end up in a tragedy it seems like,” said Panama City Beach Police Chief, J.R. Talamantez.

Over the past two years there had been almost 100 calls to police regarding the motel.

“We know there are drugs there. We know there are drugs that come into this beach every day that we try to fight and we try to battle back, but this isn’t just a law enforcement issue,” said Talamantez.

“The problem with across the street is the clientele is not respectful of really much. And so it’s going to continue to lower values until something’s done with it,” said a neighbor, Scott Harbolt.

According to the neighbors, the motel was bought from the previous owner within the last month. They said he is working on moving out the current tenants to try and start fresh.

“He’s painted it and I think gutted a lot of the interior stuff and he’s trying to upgrade it which is a good thing, so I think he’s trying,” said Harbolt.

Neighbors said they have heard all kinds of future plans for the motel.

“Originally, I heard it was going to be townhomes, and they were going to doze it. They were going to start from one side and doze and then keep corridors for the workers to renovate. Then I heard it was going to be an Airbnb,” said Harbolt.

It’s unknown what changes will actually happen here, but neighbors and police said they hope this area can become a much safer place with the improvements.

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