Tenants at Towers East apartment building in downtown Greenville told 7 On Your Side they do not feel safe living there and want more security to keep people who commit crimes inside from getting in. Towers East is a privately owned residence that receives tax dollars through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
That money is used to subsidize the cost of rent for many tenants who are older or who have a disability and may be on a fixed income. In January, tenants and other people in the city of Greenville told 7 On Your Side about a flood caused by the buildings sprinklers that shut down elevators in the building, one for several hours and one for several days.
Our investigation found the elevators in this residential building break down more than any other building in the city, sometimes with EMS inside. You can view the information we created to prove that here.
Property Owner Lawler Wood told us there are other buildings in the city that also have a high likelihood that someone will be stranded on an elevator. They also said Towers East is a residential building and the elevators are in use all day every day.Now tenants say security id the next issue that needs fixing.
Tenant Marie Peters tells us she’s witnessed people who are committing crimes and causing trouble. She tells us they are able to enter Towers East despite not having a key fob. The device acts like a key that can be swiped in front of a pad and will open the front doors.
Peters and her neighbor Henry Hewitt said years ago there was a person who checked identification at the door and would keep an eye out to make sure someone knew who went in and out. He said he’d like that system to be reinstated because he felt much safer.
We set up our cameras to monitor the front door for a couple of hours in the morning and in the evening, on a weekday. We recorded many people being let in or jumping behind someone who opened the door.
We asked the management company Lawler Wood if they ever set up a system for checking identification at the door, but they did not answer our question. Instead, Lawler Wood told us they’ve already addressed security issues with Greenville city officials and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
You can view their response email to 7 On Your Side here.
Other tenants in Towers East wrote us to describe threats and drug use, they say happened on the property.
7 On Your Side looked through three years of 911 calls to Greenville Police from Towers East. We noticed a call was made to 911 nearly every day. Click here to view the calls for service for 2014.
Officer Johnathan Bragg, spokesperson for Greenville Police said they hear from residents very often.
“We see a lot of residents calling for other residents-its either health concerns or crime, an assault or narcotics, stealing,” said Bragg.
He said there are enough calls to concern other officers.
“Our officers are definitely concerned though with having to go out there because of the calls for service they go out there for,” he said.
Two other incidents we found while investigating crime at Towers East were from the past two years. In April 2013, 47 year old Christine DeYoung was arrested for impersonating a DSS worker and attempting to steal prescription medication in the building.
In 2014, Greenville police served a drug search warrant for a Towers East tenant and charged a man with distribution of cocaine and other drugs.
7 on Your Side also was contacted by neighbors who live across the street from Towers East. You can hear concerns from neighbor Valerie Hollinger in the video above. Members of Meals on Wheels also told us there are members of their staff who will not deliver to Towers East.
Members said they did not feel there was sufficient security or a way for anyone inside to monitor who goes in and out.
Tenants continue to feel that more security is needed to keep them safe.
“If you don’t have a key like this or anything you don’t have no business being in there because your not a resident there,” said Hewitt.
Since beginning this investigation, we’ve learned off-duty Greenville Police officers will patrol the building a couple of times a week. We’ll continue to check back and see if tenants feel safe in a few months.