At least nine shootings, including three deadly shootings, at same apartment complex over last decade
District Attorney moves to crack down on crime-ridden apartment complex
By Ann McAdams | May 26, 2021 at 3:38 PM EDT – Updated May 26 at 6:13 PM
WHITEVILLE, N.C. (WECT) – Numerous shootings – at least three of which were deadly – at an apartment complex near a public park in Whiteville have attracted the attention of City Council and the District Attorney. They are now exploring options to improve security around the park, and crack down on the apartment complex owners to get crime on their property under control.
The Sandy Ridge Apartments made headlines yet again after two people were shot there around 6:30 in the evening on May 13. When the shooting happened there were dozens of people, including many young children, gathered next door at Nolan Park for little league baseball. The experience was extremely unsettling for those young families, and residents of the apartment complex who are sick of the violence. It was the final straw for some Whiteville residents after years of violence at the public housing property.
A search through the WECT archives uncovered at least nine shootings at the apartment complex in the last decade alone:
- October 2012 – Kenya Shipman shot
- November 2012 – Jonathan Mullins shot 18 times
- April 2013 – woman visiting apartment grazed by a bullet
- September 2013 – man shot 3 times
- September 2014 – James Frink shot and killed
- March 2016 – a man shot into a vehicle at the apartment that was occupied by children
- September 2017 – 26-year-old Bobby Johnson of Fair Bluff killed, autopsy revealed 18 gunshot wounds
- July 2019 – 25-year-old Diondi Saddler was shot and killed
- May 2021– two people shot while children played at neighboring ballpark
Columbus County District Attorney Jon David attended a Whiteville City Council meeting Tuesday night to explain what he is doing to tackle the problem. He has contacted the owners of the property, who live out-of-state. They were apparently unaware of ongoing crime happening at their apartment complex in Whiteville. The owners have hired a company out of Raleigh to manage the apartments for the last 30 years, and David feels the property managers bear a lot of the blame.
City officials don’t think the company is doing enough to enforce federal guidelines meant to keep tenants in public housing communities safe. Those guidelines make tenants responsible for the behavior of any guests they invite to the property. The management company recently notified the property owners that it no longer wants to manage Sandy Ridge Apartment.
Elected officials plan to meet with the property owners in June to discuss a long-term plan. If the owners don’t improve things voluntarily, David could pursue a nuisance abatement lawsuit. That would require the owners to make their property safe, or risk having it taken over by the district attorney through eminent domain.
David and City Manager Darren Currie both indicated that most of the people living in Sandy Ridge Apartments are good, law-abiding citizens who are also upset about the ongoing violence. While some involved in the violence have been residents, many have been visitors to the property. The man shot earlier this month was visiting from Lumberton.
David hopes that the threat of a lawsuit will convince the apartment owners to take the necessary action to restore peace at their apartment complex. He also highlighted the need to preserve subsidized housing for low income Whiteville residents.
The city is also considering installing some kind of barrier between the apartment complex and neighboring Nolan Park, as well as improving security by installing lights and cameras.
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