East Boundary apartment complex troublesome spot for law enforcement

'Devil has taken over'

 

The response to gunshots at River Glen Apartments has become an all-too-familiar routine.

This East Boundary housing complex is one of the more troublesome spots for law enforcement, where Richmond County deputies responded to more than 850 calls in 2011. On Sunday, deputies found the body of Truemaine Jones, 27, in the parking lot. It was the third homicide in the 192-unit complex since May.

“I’m thinking the devil has taken over,” said a long-time River Glen resident who referred to himself as “The Preacher Man.”

Capt. Scott Peebles said it’s not the residents who cause the repeated problems, but visitors to the complex.

“It makes it unsafe for people who live there,” he said.

The most recent two homicide victims did not live in the apartments, and authorities continue to investigate whether their killings were related. Jones was a witness in the shooting death of Doniel Hicks, 24, at River Glen on Jan. 14 and told investigators he knew the suspect, according to Lt. Blaise Dresser.

In May 2010, deputies discovered the body of Angelo Daggett, who was fatally shot outside. Daggett did live at River Glen.

All three victims had criminal histories.

Peebles said residents are cooperative with officers and do what they can to diminish crime while keeping their families safe. More than 125 of the 868 calls to the complex in 2011 were from residents reporting suspicious goings-on.

“The residents have to be very cautious. They’re in a peculiar situation because they know we can’t be there 24 hours a day,” he said.

Kayla Cavazo crosses her fingers every time she sends her daughters out to play.

“I say, ‘Hopefully today there’s not going to be any drama,’ ” she said outside her apartment Friday.

Cavazo is one of the many single mothers living in the publicly subsidized apartment complex. Capt. Scott Gay said River Glen is primarily a women’s housing area, although there are a few cases where men are included on leases.

Cavazo said her concerns have increased since she moved in a year ago.

“The police are out here all the time. I guess they can’t see everything that goes on,” she said.

Vivian Preston walked the streets Friday morning looking for a way to help.

Her 21-year-old goddaughter lives there with her children. Preston had no words for the unending worry she feels.

“You can only imagine,” she said. “A bullet doesn’t have a name.”

Preston hopes to work with her church, Faith Outreach in Hephzibah, on a rally to stop the violence.

Although River Glen is Section 8 housing, it is not owned by the Augusta Housing Authority.

The property has changed hands many times and now is owned by River Glen Investors of Sherman Oaks, Calif., and managed by PK Management of Charlotte, N.C.

The housing authority’s role is to review rental applications for eligibility and send applicants to PK Management.

“We’re asking for PK Management to do more,” Gay said.

After the apartments became a consistent problem for deputies, the sheriff’s office opened a mini-substation at the entrance. Deputies can’t stay there all the time, however.

The sheriff’s office is asking the management to install gates at the front of the entrance, fix holes in the existing fence and enforce policies about visitors.

The sheriff’s office also plans to put more people from the special operations and the crime suppression team in the River Glen area.

Calls to PK Management were not returned.

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