TAMPA, Fla. - A neighborhood in Tampa is coming together to take a stand against gun violence after multiple shootings at an area housing complex.
The most recent shooting took place Sunday night near the Central Court Apartment Complex. Tampa Police got a call about gunshots fired. Officers got reports of a dark-colored vehicle with men inside.
The men got into an altercation, police said. Officers later discovered bullet holes in the car and searched area hospitals for gunshot victims, but did not find any.
Lisa Moore is a long time resident of the area and a proud grandmother.
"Little innocent kids. That's the most important thing. The kids. The innocent bystanders," said Moore.
She lives across the street from Robert E. Lee Elementary. That same school is less than a block from where the shooting happened.
Moore also said that Central Court Apartments had been a safety concern for years.
"It's just young boys running wild, and shooting at each other," said Moore.
Kristin Ingram is another concerned parent and neighbor. Ingram is part of a new community group that is working to reduce the violence at Central Court. They plan petitioning area businesses as well as the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, the group that oversees the funding for Central Court, to see what can be done.
"What do they have to say about this and are they able to pull together their financial resources to get done what needs to be done," asked Ingram of local businesses and the agency that oversees funding for the complex.
Kids are the very reason people are tired of the shootings and string of violence that seems to have engulfed the area. In February, families and children playing in their front yards were sent running for cover as gunfire erupted from the complex.
Tampa Police are now increasing patrols in the Tampa Heights neighborhood, as well as working with the complex management to ensure the safety of everyone in the area.
TECO is also working to upgrade the lighting in the alley around Central Court., police said.
However, officers are saying that the problems do not usually arise from the Central Court residents. Instead, they believe that it is people coming into the apartment complex that's causing trouble.
Tampa Police tell ABC Action News that officers are working with Central Court Complex Management to trespass problem visitors.
Central Court Apartments is also part of a voluntary "Crime Free Multihousing Program" where they host community events to promote safety. Through that program, the complex can also more easily evict any residents causing violence or found committing crimes.
In the meantime, Tampa Police urge residents of Central Court and the surrounding neighborhood to continue to report violence.
Central Court Management sent ABC Action News this statement:
The owners of Central Court are very concerned about preventing crime and violence in the Central Court community and the surrounding neighborhood. To that end, they have invested in increased private patrols, improved exterior lighting and limited access gates into the community courtyard.
Additionally they have coordinated with the Tampa Police Department to install night vision capable cameras, which can be accessed online by the TPD. They are also providing services to the residents such as an after school program for the children of the residents, access to online classes in literacy, health and nutrition, employment assistance and home ownership.
This spring, the management staff hosted a Community Easter Egg Hunt and just last week hosted a Neighborhood Night Out event where the owners provided free backpacks containing school supplies and TPD officers attended to build trust and positive relationships.
A review of some of this year’s police calls to the Central Court address shows that almost 50% of the calls reference loitering. These calls likely represent the management’s commitment to removing non-residents from the community.
The owners and management of Central Court are taking ongoing action to improve the community and welcome any support or ideas that our neighbors have to enhance the current efforts.
The management staff will be hosting a “Trunk or Treat” event this fall and invites our neighbors to join us for this event to meet the staff and the residents and continue building bridges between Central Court and our neighbors.