Prior to the subject incident. Defendants (TCG/St Ives Apartments Stockbridge GA) were aware of five (5) reports of criminal activity on the property.
Denied to the extent that Defendants(TCG/St Ives Apartments Stockbridge GA) were aware of only five reports of criminal activity. In reviewing each of the citations offered by Defendants in support of Paragraph 4, none of the testimony in any way suggests that Defendants’ knowledge of prior criminal activity occurring on the premises was limited to just five reports. Detective Fowler deposed that in a less than six month period of time, Officer Snook handed out at least a dozen criminal trespass warnings to suspected gang members discovered on the premises. He observed that in most instances, gang members were found either sitting on the front steps of one of the buildings, hanging out by the swimming pool adjacent to the clubhouse, or at the clubhouse itself. He (Officer Fowler of CAGE – Criminal Apprehension & Gang Enforcement) deposed that St. Ives had a known problem with loitering and gang activity to the point that he himself would never choose to live there. Officer Snook deposed that he would let management know anytime he suspected there were gang members on the premises, and that he discussed loitering with the Connor Group’s district manager at that time, Becky Krenitsky.
In response to Interrogatories 6 and 7 of “Defendant’s First Interrogatories and First Request for Production of Documents to Plaintiff Crystal Cohran, as Administratrix of the Estate of Molly Cohran,” (hereafter “Administratrix’s Responses”), Plaintiffs produced a disc containing all criminal incident reports for the St. Ives Crossing Apartments for the period of 07/29/02 – 06/02/07 generated by the Henry County Police Department. The incident reports are collectively marked as Exhibit “C” to “Administratrix’s Responses.” In reviewing the incident reports produced in response to Defendants’ Interrogatories, the following is a summary of crimes reportedly occurring on the St. Ives Apartments by year, for which an incident report was generated:
- 2002: two burglaries, four instances of theft by taking;
- 2003: four instances of theft by taking, four instances of criminal damage to property/vandalism;
- 2004: two armed robberies (including one home invasion), two burglaries; three instances of auto theft; nine instances of theft by taking/entering auto; six instances of criminal damage to property/vandalism;
- 2005: seven burglaries; one auto theft; 17 reported instances of theft by taking/entering auto; two instances of criminal damage to property/vandalism;
- 2006: one instance of pointing firearm at another (involving resident and two brothers, Ryan Fields and Jamal Fields, known gang members involved in the altercation resulting in the shooting which is the subject of this lawsuit; two burglaries; five auto thefts; 11 other instances of theft by taking/entering auto; four instances of criminal damage to property/vandalism;
- 2007 (through June 1,2007): one armed robbery; one burglary, one reported instance of criminal trespass.
While it is possible that Defendants had no knowledge of any more than five of these prior instances of crime, such a claim is not supported by Defendants’ citations or the record. Ms. Krenitsky and Officer Snook identified additional crimes occurring on Defendants’ premises shortly before the June 2, 2007 shootings giving rise to this lawsuit, which are not included in the above described list of reported crimes. Specifically, Becky Krenitsky and Joy Mullins both identified a mugging of an older female tenant occurring in the breezeway of the 1100 building as a driving force behind the hiring of Officer Snook as a courtesy officer. Ms. Krenitsky further noted that St. Ives had a problem with loitering teenagers as far back as 2004, which is consistent with the sudden proliferation in the number of reported incidents, particularly violent crime that started occurring that year.
Officer Snook also discussed an incident of aggravated assault occurring on March 8,2007, in which a young female shot a BB gun at a young male as he was getting off of a bus. Officer Snook further advised that he learned of this incident from Defendants, not from his employment with the Henry County Police Department. This incident, like the mugging of the female tenant described by Ms. Krenitsky and Ms. Mullins, does not appear on the list of reported crimes discussed above, and is in addition to those reports.
Moreover, not all of Defendants’ employees have been forthcoming about their knowledge of prior crime occurring at St. Ives. Onika Manuel, a leasing agent employed at St. Ives, deposed that she did not recall there ever being any crime at St. Ives. Yet, she was one of three employees advised of an armed robbery of pizza deliveryman, Joseph Branham, occurring on the premises just four months before the shooting giving rise to this lawsuit who was specifically shown a BOLO sheet of teenage suspect.
The Connor Group’s Response to the St Ives Apartments Stockbridge GA Gang Problem
The Connor Group’s response to the St Ives Apartments Stockbridge Ga gang problem that resulted in a double homicide is related in this civil court submission:
Officer Snook kept St. Ives’ management staff abreast of gang members found on the complex and staff members were aware that gang members frequented and lived at the complex. Photos of known gang members were maintained by St. Ives staff on a bulletin board in the clubhouse’s leasing office. St. Ives staff was aware that gang activity typically involved violent crime and shootings, and that such activity put St. Ives residents at risk of harm.
Aware of the problem of gang members accessing the complex through the trail next to the 900 building, St. Ives staff members and Officer Snook discussed erecting a fence at least between the complex and the trail, extending, according to Ms. Mullins, from the 1700 building to the 600 building closest to the clubhouse. According to Ms. Mullins, such a fence would have prevented visitors from Flippen Woods from entering the complex unseen by the 900 building, and would have instead required that they walk towards the clubhouse, where they could be seen, in order to get around such a fence. Although quotes for the cost of such fencing, costing as little as $4,000, appear to have been presented to Ms. Krenitsky, the fence was never approved.
In addition to the fence, Ms. Mullins requested patrolling security officers, even if only for the summers, when loitering children and suspected gang members were out of school. Her request was again rejected because of the reduced revenue that additional rent concessions for such officers would cost. Thus, despite an awareness by St. Ives staff members of the threat of violent crime posed by gang activity towards St. Ives’ residents, and the fact that the complex had a gang problem, every security measure requested by Ms. Mullins and Ms. Krenitsky prior to Molly Cohran’s shooting – be it a fence, the hiring of additional security officers, the installation of cameras, or the repair of the broken front gate – was rejected. The only known measure taken by Defendants to address the security threat posed by a known gang presence was the hiring of a courtesy officer, whose contract did not require him to patrol the premises.
The Connor Group recently sued the North Carolina company Eye Trax for surveillance cameras they claimed didn’t work as advertised. I wonder if those cameras were purchased to protect residents or to protect that new headquarters?
While ignoring the law and regulations of their new neighbors in Cary, NC regarding outdoor advertising and green-space, The Connor Group also kicked Project Phoenix out of their Amberwood apartments. Project Phoenix is a program designed to help residents, owners, and rental property managers keep drugs and other illegal activity off their property.
The Connor Group didn’t have money for security, cameras, background checks or fences, but they did find some money for this dancing balloon man to scare away armed thugs.
Ms. Mullins deposed that when she first learned of Molly Cohran’s shooting, the fact that a shooting had occurred at St. Ives was not surprising to her. Although she had only been property manager for a little more than three months prior to the shooting, she was aware that the complex was infested with some of the most “disruptive, rude children” she had ever seen, many of whom she suspected were gang members. She noted that residents of the complex repeatedly complained about “kids roaming the property,” and that children constantly loitering in the breezeways of apartment buildings posed a safety risk to St. Ives tenants. Although she suspected a number of gang members resided at St. Ives, she deposed that she felt handcuffed in dealing with them, because none of her superiors would listen to her concerns. As she observed, if she emailed or called about tenant complaints regarding the presence of loitering children, she would “get popped on the hand and sent scurrying back on my way.”
Ms. Krenitsky similarly deposed that St. Ives had a problem with loitering teenagers dating back to 2004. Both she and Ms. Mullins acknowledged that these teenagers frequently used drugs, got into fights, and would use a workout room located downstairs from the clubhouse as an area to use drugs and have sex.
Detective Steve Fowler, a member of the Henry County Police Department’s Criminal Apprehension and Gang Enforcement(CAGE) Unit at the time of the shooting, also noted that loitering was a significant problem at St. Ives, particularly around the 700,800 and 900 buildings, located just a short walking distance from the clubhouse.
Noting that the St. Ives complex had a known gang problem, Detective Fowler testified that in an effort to combat loitering, over a dozen individuals, including a number of known gang members, were given criminal trespass warnings prior to Molly’s shooting, mostly for
congregating either on the front steps of the complex’s various buildings, by the complex’s pool, or by its clubhouse. He observed that pools, clubhouses and fitness centers of apartments, all located together at St. Ives, were prime gathering spots for loitering teens and gang members, particularly during warm weather.
Ms. Krenitsky and Ms. Mullins both testified to the existence of a footpath next to the 900 building of the property, connecting the St. Ives complex to a Flippen Woods neighborhood where many of the loitering teens and gang members found at St. Ives resided. Following the mugging of a female tenant in the 1100 building by a teenager using the trail leading to the Flippen Woods neighborhood, Officer Patrick Snook was hired as a courtesy officer by St. Ives in November of 2006. Like Detective Fowler, Officer Snook was also a member of Henry County’s CAGE unit. Contrary to Defendants’ assertions, Snook was not hired to patrol St. Ives he was never told he had to patrol, he did not have a set schedule, and he did not answer to St. Ives staff – but was given free rent so that St. Ives could give his cell phone number to residents to report after hours disturbances.
Although it appears that Snook’s response to such calls and his visibility at St. Ives was at best spotty, he took it upon himself to patrol the complex in shifts ranging anywhere from a few minutes to two hours. He deposed that known gang members routinely used the footpath by the 900 building to access St. Ives, and that he advised St. Ives management staff of this. He further deposed that he suspected 10 to 20 gang members resided at St. Ives and that management staff was also made aware of this. He testified that management at St. Ives was advised each time he issued a criminal trespass warning to a suspected gang member, something he did on numerous occasions prior to Molly’s shooting.
Detective Fowler identified specific gangs that used the 900 building footpath, including a gang known as “BOE” (“Bucking on Everybody”). He observed that BOE was the main gang known to loiter at St. Ives, and that BOE was loosely affiliated with three other gangs known as the Capo Goon Squad, The Top Flight Clique, and “GMA” (“Get Money Assassins”). He noted that a number of the loiterers given warnings for criminal trespass were BOE gang members or members of their affiliate gangs. He further deposed that Snook arrested members of the BOE gang for criminal trespass at St. Ives on multiple occasions within a six month period preceding the shooting. Detective Fowler testified that a number of BOE and Capo Goon Squad members appeared uninvited at the McIntosh graduation party just before Molly’s shooting, using the 900 building footpath. He noted that the fight that escalated into the shooting was instigated by a known BOE member, and that the gang member who fired the shot that killed Molly belonged to the Capo Goon Squad.
The quote above comes from a case involving a property owned by The Connor Group. Two teenage girls were killed. The quote below is five years after from the “Ask Larry…” column in a Connor Group newsletter headline: War story: recalling the Battle of Carriage
Q: I’ve heard you owned some rental properties prior to starting the company. How would you characterize those properties?
A: Two categories: One-gun properties and two-gun properties. The difference is, at a two-gun property, if the first one jams, you need a second one to have a chance.
We had a place called Carriage House. I sold it right around the time we started the company. It was 42 units, on Salem Ave. in Dayton. It was two buildings, and one the buildings got completely taken over by drug dealers. They literally came in and said, “We’re taking control of this building.” And I though, “really?”.
So I confronted them. I didn’t have much money, but I wasn’t going to let them take my building. So I ended up hiring this ‘security company’ that ended up basically being a group of former mercenaries. And in the meantime I talked to the police captain in the district. He basically said, “Larry, you can do any damn thing you want over there. And we’re not coming over.” And I could tell, he meant it. Again, I was like, “really?”
So I hired these guys and we had a three-day gun battle. And every night we’d have someone carted off to the hospital. And on the third day the drug dealers finally decided it was too much trouble. They cleared out and we never saw them again.
That’s a true story. That was a two-gun property.
It is one thing to tell some made-up bullshit story about how you laid it on the line to keep your property safe. It is quite another to tell that same story after two girls end up dead in what appears as the result of you not laying it on the line to keep your property safe.
Including the St. Ives apartment complex, Defendant The Connor Group owns 56 apartment properties nationwide, primarily in Ohio, Texas and Georgia. According to Joy Mullins, the property manager at St. Ives at the time of Molly’s shooting, the Connor Group “is a flipper” who buys properties, “gets them back to where they need to be” and then sells those properties “for a huge profit because they [run] them on skeleton crews.” As Becky Krenitsky, Ms. Mullins’ predecessor as property manager of St. Ives before being promoted to district manager (overseeing five to seven apartment complexes owned by The Connor Group in metro Atlanta area, including St. Ives) further acknowledged, The Connor Group’s “strong suit is not really property management.
In staffing its various properties, Ms. Mullins deposed that The Connor Group “went after people who had never been in property management before.” As she noted, The Connor Group “did not want people who had already been, quote, unquote, brainwashed because they wanted you to come there with a fresh mind so that they could teach you the way to do things…they wanted to brainwash you…” Ms. Mullins, Ms. Krenitsky and a leasing agent Katrina Miller were all unanimous in noting that the Connor Group’s bottom line was revenue, and in Ms. Mullins’ eyes, at the expense of the health and safety of the St. Ives complex. Ms. Krenitsky and Ms. Mullins noted that St. Ives on-site management was understaffed, and that as district manager and property manager, they were both overwhelmed.
Employee training with respect to tenant safety and security was nonexistent with The Connor Group. Ms. Krenitsky, who is now employed by a different apartment management company, testified that subjects on which she had been trained with her new employer, such as tenant safety, security and crime prevention, were things she never knew during her employment with The Connor Group. As she observed with regards to safety and security at The Connor Group, “[t]here is no protocol. There was
no rules. There wasn’t any of that. You run by the seat of your pants.” Ms. Mullins opined that little concern was given by The Connor Group’s upper level management to safety or security at St. Ives, and she repeatedly expressed frustration that her attempts to get rid of “bad residents” were overridden by her superiors in the name of revenue.
Mr. Williamson, The Connor Group’s senior manager over Ms. Krenitsky, Ms. Mullins, Ms. Miller and Onika Manuel (the latter two being St. Ives leasing agents with no security responsibility) at the time of the shooting, deposed that he did not have any responsibility pertaining to the security of St. Ives. He testified that his duties were all financial, and that it was the district manager’s duty, i.e., Ms. Krenitsky’s, to keep the St. Ives clubhouse safe. Mr. Williamson was remarkably ignorant and noncommittal with regards to security matters in the apartment industry generally, and with respect to St. Ives in particular.
Ms. Krenitsky testified that as district manager, she was given no security budget, and that any expenditure required Mr. Williamson’s approval. She recalled asking for a variety of security measures for St. Ives, including camera installation and front gate repair, but that Mr. Williamson and The Connor Group’s founder, Larry Connor, rejected these requests because such measures did nothing to increase St. Ives’ rental revenue. As she deposed when questioned about providing security for Javier Mcintosh’s graduation party, “if it cost us money, we weren’t going to do it.”
Just starting to sort through the history of Castlebrook Apartments in Trotwood, OH. Here’s what I’ve found out so far.
- Larry Connor signed an $11M mortgage in 1997
- He still owed $10.1M in 2005
- That mortgage was foreclosed upon by GE Capital
- Castlebrook was sold at Sheriff’s auction
Larry gets sued for breaking contracts, breaking leases, and defaulting on mortgages.
Larry swings a sweetheart deal with the city of Dayton to build his new HQ.
Larry is a guest lecturer at the University of Dayton on entrepreneurship.
Larry is nominated by the Dayton Business Journal for Executive of the Year.