Who’s at Fault for an Apartment Complex Shooting?
Paul Edgar had just come back to his friend’s apartment from a late night stand-up comedy show around 4:45 a.m. on Sunday, May 12th, 2019. Edgar was looking forward to moving into Polo Club Apartments in the coming weeks with his friend, who was already a resident at the complex. He dropped his things off inside and went back out hoping to get some food. Edgar was new to the Stone Mountain area, and as he sat in his silver Hyundai Elantra looking up places to get a quick bite to eat, he heard a knock coming from his passenger side window. His hunger immediately disappeared as he stared into the barrel of a gun being pointed at him.
Edgar was told to put his hands in the air and place his phone on the passenger seat. Another individual came around to the driver’s side of the vehicle demanding he give them the password to his phone. Everything was a blur. The two men pulled Edgar out of the car and shot him a total of 13 times before getting into the vehicle and running him over as they made their escape.
Edgar was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital and underwent three surgeries. No one thought he would walk, let alone, survive. Doctors recently were able to remove the stitches out of his leg and staples from his chest. And just a few weeks ago, Edgar was discharged. He is now recovering and undergoing physical therapy in his home town in Perry, Georgia. It’s nothing short of a miracle that the 28-year-old is still alive and moving around. According to his friends and family, Edgar is no longer considering moving into Polo Club Apartments.
According to The National Crime Prevention Council, apartment complexes have an 85% higher risk of being burglarized than rental properties or single-family owned homes.
Negligent Security and Poor Management
According to the 2018 bulletin published by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2017, 13,340,220 people were victims of violent household burglaries and 2,538,170 individuals were victims of motor vehicle thefts on their property. The National Crime Prevention Council reports that apartment complexes have an 85% higher risk of being burglarized than rental properties or single-family owned homes.
Furthermore, according to Area Vibes, a comprehensive tool for home buyers or renters to assess locations they’re considering living in, the annual crime rate in Stone Mountain, Georgia is 25% higher when compared to the state and 46% higher than the national average. When specifically looking at property crime, Stone Mountain has a 39% higher crime rate than the national average. In May of 2019, Polo Club Apartments was neither gated nor monitored via security camera. The complex on occasion has an off-duty police officer who patrols the area, however, that’s the only extent management has gone to ensure the safety of its residents even after Edgar’s attack.
Apartment complex management is responsible for ensuring the safety of its tenants. They are expected to take sensible precautions to increase the safety of residents and discourage criminal activity in their buildings and within their properties. This means providing each apartment with a deadbolt and a peephole on the front doors or ensuring the apartment complex has adequate exterior lighting by the parking lots. In areas with higher criminal activity, management should care for the safety of its residents by installing security cameras and a front gate, or even have apartment security personnel monitoring the property.
Unfortunately, apartment complex shootings are far too common of an occurrence. In 2018, 33-year old Mallory Heath was walking in the Post Glen Apartment complex in Brookhaven, Georgia when a man approached her, took her pursue and then shot her in the leg. Heath proceeded to pursue a lawsuit over negligent security at the apartment. Residents at Heath’s complex said that gates for cars to enter into the complex are often broken and are left unfixed sometimes for several days, allowing anyone to walk in and break into a home.
Apartment Management Responsibility
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated states in section 51-3-1 that property owners and landlords must keep their apartment complexes, hotels, and other businesses reasonably secure to ensure the safety of their tenants and guests. However, when they fail to provide adequate security, and someone gets hurt as a result of a shooting or violent crime, the law permits the victim to bring an “inadequate” or “negligent security” case against the property owner.
A landlord or property management for an apartment complex may be held liable for damages for an injury sustained by a renter’s family, invitees, or any other individual on the premises by the renter’s invitation. In a negligent security case, the victim has to show that the shooting was a “foreseeable” event. In other words, he or she has to prove that there was a high likelihood that a shooting could occur in the apartment complex due to inadequate security. If management knew about prior criminal activity (similar to the shooting that injured the victim) in or around the premises, they are liable for not implementing measures to prevent a “foreseeable” event such as a shooting from happening again.
Seeking Help After a Shooting
Negligent security cases require an expert’s approach to establish that a violent shooting incident would not have occurred had the apartment complex ensured reasonable security measures. If this is the case for you, it is important to get the expert advice of an experienced negligent security attorney. A lawyer can conduct an investigation including identifying prior crimes in the apartment complex or within the area, locating witnesses to testify regarding the lack of safety on the property, or even have former employees speak to the landlord or property manager’s negligence.
In many shooting cases, the attacker is either a guest of a resident or the resident themselves; sometimes the attacker can be someone who entered the complex as a trespasser. The problem comes if the shooter lived in the apartment complex. You will need an experienced lawyer to determine if increased security measures were taken, it could have prevented the attack from happening in the first place.
If you or a loved one was harmed as a result of negligent security, we advise you to get the opinion of an attorney at Butler Kahn. We have years of experience trying apartment complex shootings and sometimes even wrongful death cases that arise from apartment shootings. You can read about one of our successful settlements in a wrongful death shooting case by clicking here.