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After Fatal Shooting, Victims' Families Sue Haverstock Hills Apartment Management

Arrows point to the wide-open gates that people who killed two and injured four others zoomed through in March.
Arrows point to the wide-open gates that people who killed two and injured four others zoomed through in March.
From the lawsuit
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After four people were injured and two killed in a shooting at the Haverstock Hills apartment complex in March, families of the victims are suing apartment management, claiming poor security measures are partly to blame for what happened.

On March 26, three men in a white van drove through the "wide-open entrance gate" at Haverstock Hills and pulled up to a stairwell where a group of people were sitting, including former America's Next Top model contestant Brandy Rusher.  After an argument ensued, one of the men pulled a semi-automatic rifle out of the trunk and opened fire, according to police. The man killed 31-year-old Wayne Rusher, Brandy's brother, and 33-year-old Christopher Beatty, her boyfriend.

Beatty's brother, 47-year-old Arthur Larkin, a 16-year-old girl, Brandy Rusher and her other 28-year-old brother, Isiah Rusher, were all rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

In the lawsuit filed in state district court Friday, their families say that the Haverstock Hills management were fully aware of the high risks of violent crime in the complex—but nevertheless didn't do enough to protect the residents from a fatal shooting like this one.

"The Haverstock Hills Apartment complex is no stranger to extreme violence, as violent crimes have occurred there on a regular basis for many years," lawyers with the Houston law firm Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz wrote in a news release. "Over the past several years, thousands of calls have been placed for the help and service of law enforcement at the Haverstock Hills Apartments. Most, if not all, of the deaths of residents occurring on the premises were caused by individuals who did not live at the Haverstock Hills Apartments, but were able to enter the premises due to the lack of security."

For example, the plaintiffs claim that the security gates haven't worked for nine years and have instead remained wide open. There's a security guard station at the entrance—but it has remained unmanned. The apartment complex has security cameras, but not all of them work, and many areas of the complex remain poorly lit or completely dark.

And the defendants—J. Allen Management Company, Equality-Lakeline LLC and Equality Community Housing Corporation—should have been well aware of the risk for crime, plaintiffs claim, because violence at Haverstock Hills is well-documented. In 2010, the Harris County District Attorney's Office  sought a gang injunction against more than two dozen Bloods and Crips members, permanently banning them from stepping foot in Haverstock Hills as way to try to curtail violent crime and drug dealing. That has only done so much.

According to a few examples of crimes cited in the lawsuit, just after this shooting made headlines, a pregnant woman living at Haverstock was robbed at gunpoint in her apartment. In 2014, a man was shot six times while walking from his car to his Haverstock apartment. In 2013, a cab driver dropping a woman off at Haverstock Hills was "brutally assaulted" by a group of men trying to rob him.

"While these are just some of the examples of the violent crimes that have occurred at the Haverstock Hills Apartments, the horrifying evidence in this case will reveal that the list of crimes is far, far greater," attorneys wrote in the lawsuit. "Despite having knowledge of the alarming rate of crimes that took place at defendants property, Defendants still failed to provide even basic security measures and protection for its residents and guests."

Equality Community Housing Corporation, J. Allen Management and Equality-Lakeline LLC could not immediately be reached for comment; we will update this story if and when our messages are returned.

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