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Could A Simple Security Measure Have Prevented Double Homicide at Park at Peachtree Apartments?

Brothers Murdered in Unsecured Laundry Room

Two brothers were shot and killed in the laundry room of Park at Peachtree Apartments in Gwinnett County outside of Atlanta, Georgia on March 21, 2019. Fox 5 reports that brothers Billy Roy Thurman, 25, and William Thurman, 17, were helping their cousin Beonka Thurman, 27, move into the complex. Beonka Thurman was shot in the foot. William Thurman, one of six surviving siblings asked for anyone with information on the shooting to come forward, Gwinnett Daily Post reports, and the family set up a GoFundMe page to assist with funeral expenses.

Fox 5 Atlanta Coverage

Gwinnett Daily Post Coverage

A Google Review of Park at Peachtree Corners suggests that there was concern about the locks on the door to the laundry room. The reviewer writes: “Many tenants have complained to management over and over again about the laundry room door not working properly when you enter the code. Because they refuse to fix it. . .we have to leave the doors unlocked just to be able to make sure we can access the laundry room.”

If the locks had worked, would the murders have ever happened?

Assuming the Google Review is accurate, it means the owners and managers of Park at Peachtree Apartments could share some responsibility for the murder of the Thurman brothers. Atlanta attorney Chuck Clay explains that negligent security case law establishes that property owners who fail to make reasonable efforts to keep tenants and guests safe from known threats can be held liable when violent criminals strike. “Management put locks on the laundry room door for a purpose,” Chuck Clay says. “If management had been notified that the locks didn’t work, and they failed to fix the problem, then they literally left the door open for a violent crime of opportunity.”

Chuck Clay also notes that inoperable security devices, like broken locks, can be worse than no security at all because they create a false sense of safety for tenants and guests.

Make Atlanta Safe

While law enforcement can respond to violent crimes, they cannot prevent all violent crimes from happening in the first place. Property owners and managers, however, can and should take steps to make their communities less appealing to potential criminals. Chuck Clay says, “As property owners are held accountable, they improve security, either by choice or because their insurance carries demand it. If we keep legal pressure on bad actors, we’ll be able to help make Atlanta safe, one community at a time.

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