Does the owner of Budgetel Inn & Suites motel in Atlanta, GA face legal liability after a shooting left one man dead in the hotel lobby?
Demarcus Watson, 26, was shot and killed at the Budgetel Inn & Suites – Atlanta Galleria Stadium. Police were called to the Cobb County hotel, which is close to Truist Park, after reports that a person had been shot in the lobby after a dispute. Life-saving efforts were attempted, but he died at the scene.
Cobb County Police are investigating and looking for the shooter. Please reach out if you were a witness or have any information that can help find the shooter.
Hotel and motel owners in Georgia, especially those with weekly rentals, have an important responsibility. If they’re aware criminal activity has occurred on or near their property, they must implement adequate security measures. Such measures include checking customer IDs, restricting problematic individuals, installing fencing, placing visible security cameras, hiring on-site security guards, and ensuring good lighting. Research shows these actions can reduce violent crime.
The Cobb County hotel is known to offer extended stay or weekly rates. Online reviews show the unsafe conditions of the hotel.
“The room was gross and dirty and we genuinely felt unsafe. The door between rooms did not lock and people were screaming in the middle of the night,” writes one hotel customer.
Another review mentions, “Constant shootings around the building.” They continue “I'm advising you right now do not come here. Everything everyone saying is real, the roaches everywhere, the staff are rude and apparently going into rooms without permission?”
In Georgia, hotel and motel owners are responsible for ensuring the safety of their premises against potential criminal incidents. Failure to address such concerns risks perpetuating a criminal cycle.
While law enforcement has the right to apprehend criminals, they do not have the authority to compel hotel or motel owners to prevent crime or pay victims' families.
Only crime survivors or victims' families can legally sue hotel or resort owners and managers after a violent incident. Civil damages may assist with expenses like medical bills or lost income, partially easing the recovery process. However, no compensation can fully account for the trauma inflicted by violence.
Importantly, owners and managers frequently resist preventative action until facing legal repercussions themselves, revealing a potential unwillingness to tackle security threats proactively.
Together we can Make Atlanta 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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