Could the Wood Glen Apartments owners’ negligent actions lead to civil liability for a fatal shooting on the property?
On Saturday afternoon, a fatal shooting occurred at the Wood Glen Apartments on North Cary Street in LaGrange, Georgia. The victim, identified by the LaGrange Police Department as 20-year-old Gerald Jerome Burden, Jr., sustained multiple gunshot wounds.
Emergency medical teams promptly attended to Burden and rushed him to the hospital. Despite their efforts, he was later pronounced dead.
The LaGrange Police Department is actively investigating the incident. As of this report, no suspect has been identified, and the motive remains unclear. Individuals with pertinent information are encouraged to contact the LaGrange Police Department to assist in the ongoing investigation.
Under Georgia state law, property owners must take reasonable security precautions if there's a potential for criminal activity on their premises. This means implementing appropriate security measures such as video cameras, on-site security staff, access-controlled gates with perimeter fencing, and possibly a guard station at the entrance.
By adhering to these legal requirements, landlords and property managers can decrease the likelihood of violent crimes in their apartment complexes. Failure to comply with these requirements potentially places property owners at risk of legal liability for any criminal acts that unfold on their property.
It's essential for property owners and managers to understand their legal responsibilities and consistently apply the advised security measures. In doing so, they help create a safer environment within their apartment communities.
In recent years, the Wood Glen Apartments has been the site of multiple violent crimes including shootings, robberies, and stabbings. These include a July 2016 fatal shooting of 25-year-old Quentin Williams at the apartment complex. In August 2017 a man was shot and murdered just outside the Wood Glen apartments in gang-related activity.
In March 2019 there was an arrest for aggravated assault when one resident stabbed another.
Many online reviews from Wood Glen apartments' residents highlight concerns about unsafe conditions. “I've seen someone get ran over. A toddler has gotten shot. A young man was murdered a few feet away from the complex,” wrote one resident on Google Reviews.
Another resident was profiled by the local newspaper and said about the building maintenance, “I’ve asked them several times to fix my heat, door and fire alarms, and they never would.” Her apartment later caught fire and was a total loss.
In Georgia, there exists a legal duty for property owners to take adequate steps to deter potential criminal activities. Landlords and property managers who neglect to address criminal incidents within their vicinity may inadvertently contribute to a recurring pattern of violence.
While the role of law enforcement is pivotal in capturing and prosecuting offenders, they are limited in their capacity to compel property owners to mitigate crime on their properties or to offer compensation to the families of victims.
It is primarily the victims of violent crimes or their families who possess the legal right to initiate civil litigation against property owners and managers. While no legal remedy can truly compensate for the trauma of violent crime, a favorable civil judgment can assist in offsetting costs such as medical expenses and lost income, marking the commencement of the healing journey.
Importantly, substantial financial awards to crime victims can serve as a compelling incentive for property owners and managers to adopt measures designed to thwart future criminal acts on their premises.
Together we can Make Georgia Safe, one community at a time.
Only the survivors of violent crimes or the families of victims can use the civil court system to hold property owners and managers accountable when they fail to take reasonable precautions to protect tenants and guests from known threats. By holding them accountable, we can motivate property owners to make meaningful changes to prevent violent crime from happening to others. In that way, together, we can help Make Atlanta Safe.
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