Years of fear, disgust, anger and frustration spilled out as people affected by Victoria Inn told their stories of finding drug syringes on their doorsteps and on their lawns, squatters sleeping in their yards and garages, death threats, and the last straw when an inn resident was severely stabbed in his room May 3.

The people laid it all out Wednesday evening to the City Council, whose members appeared to be unaware that the large group that had sat through the council meeting was there to support the handful who told their horror stories during the public comments portion of the meeting at the end of the agenda. The room was hushed as the speakers recounted how their lives had become unbearable and, as one put it, to beg the city to do something about the inn at 801 East Main St.

When the inn’s neighbors had worried, frightened, that the stabber was loose near their homes, Tiffany Bauer was holding the bleeding man until the ambulance arrived. It was her first day as the new manager of Victoria Inn.

She said Thursday that she would have been at the City Council meeting, except she didn’t know the upset group was going to be there. She wanted to tell them and the city officials and everyone else that she intends to restore the Victoria Inn’s reputation and appearance. The police have been sent to the inn 600 times since 2016, said Gary Duckworth, who lives on East Third Street. At this year’s current pace, there will be more than that this year alone, he said.

Bauer said it won’t happen on her watch. She said she posted new rules, including that there can be no liquor or drugs on the property. People who live there must be employed, she said, and homeless people cannot spend the night in the lobby. A night watchman has been hired and there is a maintenance crew, she said. Bauer said she does a daily room check. Most of the younger tenants have been kicked out, so most now are in their 40s to 60s, she said.

Bauer, 38, said she will be at the next council meeting. Managing apartments is new to her, she said, but she has experience in quality control. She grew up in Hanover and now considers herself a Madisonian. She said that although she used to use alcohol and drugs, she has been clean for three years and has turned into an avid jogger.

City attorney Joe Jenner said he is looking into what the city can do, and Mayor Damon Welch said he has several attorneys looking into all aspects of ordinances to learn what can be done.

“We all take some of the blame for this,” Welch said. “We are going to do our best to act on it. …We have to do it within the law.”

The city residents who spoke at the council meeting were specific in their narratives.

Debra Squires has lived about two blocks west of Victoria Inn for less than a year. She said the alley next to her house “is the foot path to the Salvation Army.”

Coming from the alley, she said, are “fights, arguments, cussing, loud yelling.”

She said neighbors went to the Zoning Board of Appeals in February and were told that Victoria Inn is zoned GB, or general business, so apartments are allowed, and to go to the City Council if the business is a nuisance.

“Tell us what you are doing … and how you will keep us safe,” she said.

Melanie Otten lives on East Main Street a short distance from Victoria Inn. “All the foot traffic comes in front of or behind my house,” she said. “It sleeps in my yard or in my garage, where we have to get the police to remove there. We have no warning that they’re there. I open my garage, there’s a man that’s decided to move in. Victoria Inn would only take him part-time. We have people that will come to our house and threaten to burn it down if we do not find them drugs, give them cigarettes. We witness drug deals on our front porch.

“It’s a never-ending cycle,” Otten said. “I go to cut the grass. I have to check my yard to see if there’s someone laying on it. I have to check for needles before I can let this one (her toddler granddaughter, whom she was holding) play in the yard. I have to check and see if they are screaming at the Victoria Inn.” She said a toddler cannot be punished for repeating what she heard. “I have to check my gazebo and see if there’s needles or human excrement in it.”

Only about 25 feet are between Victoria Inn and Beverly and Bob Armstrong’s home.

“We’ve just been begging for help,” Beverly Armstrong said.

She said she and her husband find needles on their front step if addicts sat there to get high. Twice a man walked into their house. If she and her husband sit on their porch, she said, they take a stun gun with them. It doesn’t end: “They bang on our door at night,” she said.

“It’s really getting desperate,” she said.

Suzan and Gary Duckworth have seen open drug dealing, drug use, domestic violence, “lewd behavior” “and now we’ve had attempted murder” near their home, Gary Duckworth said. This year there have been eight calls to 911 from Victoria Inn, 38 domestic violence cases, 21 drug arrests and 30 thefts, Suzan Duckworth said.

“It seems like it continues to escalate and gets worse,” she said.

Bauer said it stops with her. “I’m kicking ass and taking names,” she said.