On Jan. 6, 2016, Jaylon Maddox, 15, and Justin Sellers, 27, were shot in what police described as a robbery attempt near the entrance. The teen died, and months later his blood still stained the pavement.
Residents said conditions continued to deteriorate after the shooting, with gangs and squatters on the property. The leasing office was abandoned, and trash littered the grounds. Many units were badly damaged by water leaks and vandals, and residents said they couldn't even find management to pay their rent.
Had the property been in better condition and had good security, the shooting might not have happened, the plaintiffs’ attorneys argue.
Renovations are underway at Creekside Forest Apartment Homes located off I-20 in DeKalb County.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys said a former employee of the defendant wrote in an affidavit that security guards were “taking half of the money that changed hands in drug deals on the property.”
After DeKalb county officials threatened to get a court order to demolish the complex and helped moved residents out of the complex, Meisels’ company, Creekside by TAG, sold it to Falcon GA Investments in 2017. The new owners are in the process of renovations.
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Bruce Datrez Howard was convicted of murder and robbery last year in the shooting and is serving a life sentence in state prison, according to Georgia Department of Corrections records.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit were relatives of the 15-year-old and the 27-year-old shooting survivor himself. Both parties were represented by the Butler Tobin firm, as well as The Stoddard Firm and The Mabra Firm. The settlement, which will be paid by the complex’s former owners’ insurance policies, came as the case was approaching trial after two years of legal grappling in DeKalb County State Court.