- February 9, 2023
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Premises Liability
Everyone deserves to feel safe at home, especially children and teens, who depend on that feeling of security to develop a healthy sense of identity and normality. It makes no difference whether a family owns a house or rents an apartment — that feeling of coming home should be the same.
Of course, Atlanta’s teens and pre-teens are not safe at home, statistically speaking. In fact, the danger of death by shooting is even higher in American residences than in schools.
While many factors can influence the risk of gun violence at any given place and time, landlord responsibility is a crucial and often overlooked element. Making a property unwelcoming to violent crime really does make a difference, and Atlanta renters have a right to expect their landlords to put in the effort.
Two Minors Are Dead, Three Injured, After an Apartment Building Shootout in Southwest Atlanta
A dispute that reportedly started on social media escalated to a full-scale shootout at the Retreat at Greenbriar Apartments on December 17th, 2022.
According to police, a group of armed teenagers arrived at the building in the late afternoon, apparently to confront another group. Gunfire was then exchanged on multiple sides, starting inside one of the apartments and continuing outside.
Though details are sparce, the altercation ended with five minors shot, two of them fatally. The surviving three, a 15-year-old boy and girl and an 11-year-old boy, were reportedly taken to a hospital before police arrived.
The two lives lost were Justin Powell, 16, and Malik Grover, 14, a pair of best friends, according to Powell’s family.
Powell’s parents, Erik or Natosha Hinton, say he was a nonconfrontational, sweet kid, and Grover’s grandmother and guardian, Vickie Grover, describes him as a funny kid with a big heart.
A 19-year-old suspect has since been arrested for Powell’s murder, but no suspect has been named for Grover’s.
In All the Blame-Shifting of Gun Violence, Landlords Too Often Escape Notice
The reality, severity, and tragic consequences of gun violence in the U.S are self-evident. Stories like those of Powell and Grover happen every single day, not only nationwide but in Georgia specifically.
In a 2018 survey, Georgia had the 17th highest rate of gun violence in the country and the 5th highest total death count at 1,571 lives lost that year. And the overall problem has only worsened following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The response to the shooting at the Retreat at Greenbriar has been typical of such incidents, with police urging parents to watch their children, and parents and students continuing to plead for gun control legislation.
Rarely do shooting survivors realize, however, how much change-driving power they already possess under civil law.
Property owners are legally responsible for protecting tenants and guests from known threats, including gun violence. Yet many landlords ignore their duties to provide appropriate security, counting on being able to deflect blame in case of a violent incident.
It’s true that landlord behavior makes up only one piece of the gun violence puzzle, but it’s a larger piece than many imagine. Often, a well-placed security camera can make the difference between an immediate arrest and a continuing string of unsolved murders. That same camera can also be a powerful deterrent in the moment, making an immediate difference between life and death.
When families harmed by gun violence choose to hold their landlords accountable, they turn gun violence into a financial concern for the property management companies that physically own much of Atlanta. Investing in safety becomes a priority, even for the most unfeeling for-profit business, because it’s genuinely cheaper than paying for one wrongful death after another.
If you are Vickie Grover, Erik or Natosha Hinton, or anyone else who has lost a child to local gun violence, reach out to the Stoddard Firm to learn about how we can help you collect compensation while making Atlanta neighborhoods safer.