Gun violence in Atlanta apartment communities continued to make headlines during the holiday season in Atlanta. In some cases, there had been previous news reports about violent crime in the communities. Online reviews for each community demonstrate resident concerns about safety and security, and the latest violent incidents raise questions about whether property owners should be doing more to reduce crime on their properties.
17-year-old Zavion Knight died after being shot at Falcon Crest apartments on December 22, 2022. An online review of the complex states that Falcon Crest management “has no concerns about resident safety.”
Days earlier, a 46-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman died at Columbia at Peoplestown apartments, victims of gun violence. Residents had complained about security lapses at the apartments in the past. One resident writes, “If this is supposed to be a gated community . . . why are the gates always open?”
On December 17, 2021, a rideshare driver dropped off a passenger at Country Oaks Apartments when a passenger in a different car opened fire, striking the driver who, luckily, survived his injuries. In September 2021, an innocent bystander was struck by two stray bullets when a gunfight broke out at the complex, and the month before a man was killed during a shooting on the property. An online reviewer says “security needs to be at the gate not letting the wrong [people] in.”
Justice for the Victims of Violent Crime
Police can do only so much to prevent violent crime. Landlords, however, have the power to make improvements that are known to deter violent criminals. Criminals prefer to lurk in the shadows, and adequate lighting can reduce their opportunity to commit crimes without being detected. Likewise, visible security cameras send a message to criminals that they are being recorded. Unbroken perimeter fences and functioning gates help prevent people who don’t belong from accessing the property, and it makes it harder for criminals to escape quickly. Sometimes the level of crime justifies the presence of a security guard who can monitor who comes to the community and immediately report violent crimes when they happen.
Landlords have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to protect their tenants and guests from foreseeable risks. When there is a history of violent crime in an apartment community, property owners and managers should assess whether existing security measures are sufficient to deter the type of crime that is common to the area and to make improvements when necessary. Georgia law says that if landlords fail to implement reasonable security measures, they could be liable for violent crime on their property.
Only the survivors and the families of victims of violent crimes can hold property owners and managers accountable when they provide adequate security measures to meet known crime threats. By filing a lawsuit in the criminal justice system, families have the opportunity to fight to be compensated for the loss they have suffered, and perhaps more importantly, a lawsuit could prompt landlords to make the security improvements required to make sure a similar tragedy doesn’t happen again in the future. By holding property owners and managers accountable, we can help Make Atlanta Safe, one community at a time.