Insurers of the defendants in a negligent security case have paid $3 million to the parents of a teen shot to death and another man critically injured in a January 2016 apartment complex shooting in Decatur, Georgia.
Creekside Forest Apartments, its owner Chester Meisels, security provider SMJ Construction Services, and its owner Joe Gonzalez were sued by the parents of 15-year-old Jaylon Henderson and 27-year-old Terrell Sellers, a friend of Jaylon’s older brother.
According to the Daily Report, Jaylon and his brother Zerek were visiting Mr. Sellers at the Creekside Forest Apartments on Jan. 6, 2016. Mr. Sellers was a resident of the apartment complex at the time.
According to the negligent security lawsuit, the Hendersons and Mr. Sellers were outside when they were ambushed by Bruce Howard, who pulled a gun on them and demanded money. According to one of the Hendersons’ lawyers, “things went bad and (Mr. Henderson) starts shooting.”
One of the bullets went through the femoral artery in Jaylon’s leg, causing him to bleed to death. Mr. Sellers was shot in the arm and stomach and continues to suffer from intestinal problems because of his injuries.
Howard was eventually caught and tried and is serving a life sentence at Macon State Prison for murder, attempted armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
A lawyer for the plaintiffs said that Howard told friends he wanted to “go rob somebody” the night of the shooting, “so he drives past the broken-down, empty guard shack and rides around a bit until he sees a small group of young guys walking through the apartments.”
According to plantiffs’ lawyers, negligent security conditions made the apartment complex a prime target for criminals. The complex has since been acquired by new owners and renovated, but at the time of the crime it was notorious for its crime, litter, and vacant run-down units that attracted squatters, drug dealers, and drug users.
The negligent security lawsuit also alleged that what security guards were at the complex were claiming half of the profits the drug dealers made in exchange for turning their back on the situation.
According to the law firm that handled the case for the plaintiffs, “the president of the company that owned the apartments admitted that he had been cited for over 300 code violations in connection with the property. But before his court date, the owner returned to New York and skipped court. He never returned to Atlanta, and a bench warrant for his arrest remains active in Georgia.”