ATLANTA — A video of a massive fight at a southeast Atlanta complex apparently wasn’t a fluke – mothers refuse to let their kids play outside and said they hear gunfire daily.
“A lot of people out here, they’ve been out here for 20 years, so that is what they live for, this is all they know” said Jasmine, a mother who lives at the Forest Cove Apartments. “So, that is normal. They wake up ready for a fight. Ready for their kids to get into an argument, so there can be a fight.”
The video posted on Instagram Friday showed dozens of adults and children throwing punches in the outside courtyard at the complex. One woman is seen hitting another woman with what appears to be a baseball bat. At one point in the video, a man jumps on the back of a woman’s feet while she’s down on the ground. Several children appeared to be caught up in the fight as well.
In a statement, Atlanta Police called the video “disturbing” and “unacceptable.” The department also stated that problems at Forest Cove Apartments are “compounded by a lack of cooperation by witnesses when officers arrived on scene.”
Data released by Atlanta Police show that officers have responded to the apartments more than 130 times since last June - for reports of violent crime, including shootings, stabbings and rape. 11Alive has reported on problems at the complex, located off McDonough Avenue near Moreland, several times in recent years, too.
In 2014, a 1-year-old at the complex was shot in the arm. Police said the child got caught in the crossfire during a burglary that turned into a gun battle. In 2016, a 5-year-old was shot in the back by a stray bullet. That same morning, two others at the complex were shot. And, last year, a 6-month-old was grazed by a bullet, which landed in the baby's diaper. The girl’s mother said that doctors told her the shot was an inch away from killing her baby.
“It’s heartbreaking to see the Instagram post. I’ve had complaints from that neighborhood and the residents who live there, about these apartments, for many years,” said Atlanta city council member Carla Smith, by email. Smith represents District 1, where the Forest Cove Apartments are located.
The manager of the apartments directed 11Alive to their corporate offices in Ohio for answers. We have been told our questions were passed along to the corporate head of security, but so far, we haven't heard back.
“These are privately-owned, HUD-funded apartments currently between management companies,” Smith said. “New owners had notified us that they were closing in December 2018. We have yet to see that happen.”
The Forest Cove apartments are often referred to as “4 Seasons” by those who have lived there. It’s served as the backdrop for everything from slick rap videos to grainy cellphone clips of street fights to documentaries. Young children are often shown sitting around and watching as the cameras roll.
"We are well aware of the issues at the Forest Cove apartment complex. This location has been a challenge to us for a number of years and we remain committed to facing the challenges presented here," said Atlanta Police Sgt. John Chafee. "This location is frequently patrolled by the zone officers and we routinely assign our discretionary units to patrol the complex and surrounding areas. We remain in contact with the property managers and their security officers to ensure we are on the same page and we are working together to address the concerns here.
"Our Code Enforcement unit has also been instrumental in addressing issues and working to improve the quality of life here," Chafee continued. "In 2018, Code Enforcement issued nearly 200 citations regarding violations found. The crime issues seen here are unacceptable, and we will continue our efforts to address these incidents and apprehend those responsible."
Smith said that she hopes to see positive change in that complex, which houses generations of families.
"It is my sincere hope that new owners purchase this property and bring comprehensive, positive change to the community," she said.