Fighting back tears, a Brookhaven woman on Thursday recalled the moments a man robbed and shot her in her own apartment complex, and announced plans to sue apartment management.
Mallory Heath, 33, was walking in a breezeway at the Post Glen apartments early Saturday when a man accosted her, stole her purse and shot her in the leg before running off.
Heath and her attorneys said they are preparing a lawsuit over what they characterized as negligent security at the complex, endangering the safety of the hundreds of residents.
“It really could've been anyone, so I'm just grateful to be alive,” Heath said, becoming emotional as she spoke about the incident. “I'm thankful it wasn't worse.”
Heath and her attorneys did not go into detail about the security at the gated complex, but other residents said the gates for cars to enter the community are often broken.
The apartments are owned by MAA, a company that owns 30 properties in Atlanta, Heath’s attorney Zachary Shewmaker told reporters.
“Post Glen could have prevented, or at the very least, reduced the chance of that attack,” said Shewmaker, a lawyer at Morgan and Morgan.
MAA Regional Vice President Lucy Wiggins told AJC.com that the shooting was a “tragic event,” but said no property owner can protect against “criminal acts from an outside party.
“We can’t guarantee the safety of our residents, we’re clear on that ... we've communicated that to our residents,” she said. “We all have to be responsible for our own safety.”
Shewmaker, however, said the complex had a mandate to take steps to ensure the safety of the residents.
“Had those reasonable steps been taken, we wouldn’t be sitting here today, and Ms. Heath would not have been a victim of this crime.”
Post Glen resident Caroline Watkins, who lives near the breezeway where Heath was shot, said security has been an ongoing issue. The front of the complex has two entry gates: one for residents and one for guests, she said. When the resident gate breaks, management will leave the guest gate open, Watkins said.
“If the gate’s open, anyone could walk in and break in,” she said, adding that the gate was open for most of the Thanksgiving break.
Watkins said she saw Heath’s blood on the stairs near her apartment for several days.
Heath moved into Post Glen just two months ago, she said. Since the shooting, she has not felt safe enough to return and sleep in her own bed.
The apartments are located on Peachtree Street, just north of the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe University MARTA station. Police said the suspect took off toward the station after the shooting.
Brookhaven police said they have stepped up patrols in the area and are still searching for the man. He was described as 6 feet tall with a thick build and short hair. Heath said he took her Prada purse, which contained a wallet and several credit cards.
MAA held a community meeting with the Post Glen residents Wednesday night; Wiggins said their feedback is “under review.” Atlanta-based Post Properties was bought by MAA two years ago in a $4 billion deal, the AJC reported.
Shewmaker said his firm is working to identify the particular owners and manager of the property before filing the lawsuit.
For now, Heath said she is focused on ensuring the complex prioritizes safety.
“I’m really lucky it was just me who was out there,” she said, “because there’s multiple families with a lot of children who let their kids walk their dogs at different times throughout the day.”
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