AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – There’s a new name and even new features to help make, The Landings at 237, formerly known as Fox Trace/Den, safer. We spoke with the Augusta Commissioners working with the owner of these apartments as well as people who live there to find out if it’s working.
“I was at home. He was calling me. And he wanted me to come outside and stuff. But then somebody was at the store and they shot him.”
A 16-year-old who only wants to be identified as Monica lost a close friend September 30th to gun violence. That friend was 17-year-old Zayquantez Jones, shot and killed at the Smart Grocery near The Landings at 237 apartment complex, off Wrightsboro Road.
She told us that murder and other crimes have been her reality at home since she was in the third grade.
“It was basically the same. A lot of crime out here, but it just got worse,” she said. “Shootings basically. That’s all that happens out here is shootings.”
Augusta Commissioners John Clarke and Catherine McKnight told NewsChannel 6 they have been working with the owner to reduce crime. Clarke confirmed, off camera, that the new, 8 foot wooden fence completely around the property, two Flock safety surveillance cameras and security gates both for cars and pedestrians operated by code are all up.
“This particular owner has taken extreme measure to meet with us commissioners, wants to make note of the Sheriff’s Department, wants to be involved with the marshal and wants to have a good rapport with us and work together,” Smith-McKnight explained, adding she believes the efforts will work.
As a thank you and much to their surprise, Clarke and McKnight said the owner affixed their names and the city logo to a camouflaged, surveillance tower with the words Keeping Augusta Safe. It sparked criticism and support online. And McKnight said she understands both sides.
We spoke with people who live in The Landings at 237 about whether the recent efforts have worked.
“They put the little bird tower up there and that kind of helped a little bit keep the traffic in and out from the store to there,” an anonymous resident said.
We replied, “So, that surveillance tower helped?”
He added, “A little bit, yeah. Because you know, you don’t hear the shootings or nothing like that. The other night I was sitting and I heard a couple of shots, but it wasn’t nothing.”
“Regardless of who you catch, who did the shooting, this, that and the third, it’s still going to be more people out here who are going to do the same thing,” Monica said. “You can’t change nobody or their mindset or what they’re going to do.”
We spoke with the staff on site since the surveillance tower is now gone. But we are still waiting to hear back from the owner as to whether it will go back up.
We also spoke with the Sheriff’s Office to see if their numbers show a reduction in crime. We are awaiting those details.
Police, Fire and EMS calls made since January total more than 80. Of those, there are a handful of weapons calls, several suspicious person calls, and one assault call.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps