Family: Lax security aided killer in innocent DeKalb boy’s murder

September 7, 2016 Decatur, GA: A woman and small cild walk past the shattered window of the guard shack at Creekside Forest Apartment Homes in Decatur. The complex has fallen into disrepair. The few residents who remain are living rent free but with no maintenance services or support. The leasing office has been closed for several months, mail is no longer delivered, windows are broken, and litter covers the ground. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM
September 7, 2016 Decatur, GA: A woman and small cild walk past the shattered window of the guard shack at Creekside Forest Apartment Homes in Decatur. The complex has fallen into disrepair. The few residents who remain are living rent free but with no maintenance services or support. The leasing office has been closed for several months, mail is no longer delivered, windows are broken, and litter covers the ground. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

The parents of a boy gunned down in front of a DeKalb apartment complex in what police have called a random robbery is suing the owner.

Had security been better, Jaylon Maddox, 15, wouldn’t have been killed at Creekside Forest Apartment Homes, the suit alleges.

Maddox died Jan. 6 at the notorious complex, which has been plagued by blight, squatters and gangs.

Because the gate didn’t work, the assailants drove a Pontiac into the complex off Candler Road, near I-20, and waited for victims, the suit says. There were no working cameras or security guard despite the dangerous reputation of the Ember Drive complex.

“Jaylon Maddox did not start the trouble, did not know any of the assailants and was not armed,” says the lawsuit, filed earlier this month in DeKalb County State Court.

Bruce Howard, 29, is the only person who's been arrested in the case, court records indicate. He's charged with murder.

The suit, filed by Atlanta attorney Jeb Butler, asks for a jury to decide how much the family is owed.

Repeated efforts by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to reach the ownership of the complex have been fruitless for several months. The owner, Chester Meisels, is wanted for skipping a court date on hundreds of code violations in September.

County officials have said they're interested in asking a court to let them take over the crumbling complex and demolish it.

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