South Richmond apartment complex works to restore community after crime

Published: Jun. 9, 2021 at 11:32 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A south Richmond apartment complex is desperately working to get back to normal after a devastating crime rocked their community more than a month ago.

It was back on April 27 when five people were shot at the Belt Atlantic Apartments, killing a woman and her infant daughter. For weeks after the tragedy, residents say children understandably were too shaken to even go outside.

Now, management is in the process of getting even more security on-site to help neighbors feel safe. Wednesday, they brought the community together to show there’s so much more than the crime that happened to strike here.

Who could forget the faces of a 3-month-old girl and her beloved mother, shot and killed in a southside shootout in April. Since the crime, it’s been hard for residents at the Belt Atlantic apartments. Katherine Kelly remembers how it devastated her 9-year-old granddaughter.

“She saw the news. She heard about the baby and she was real sad. I talked to her. I told her real bad people came in here and did something wrong. I said ‘but the baby is going to heaven and the mom is going to heaven also,’” Kelly said.

For weeks, it placed a dark cloud over a community that never saw the crime coming. Three others were injured in that shooting.

“She was kind of scared to go outside too,” Kelly recalls of her granddaughter.

That’s why the community held a community appreciation day Wednesday, a fun-filled event to bring residents together.

Despite the rain, neighbors took part in free food, a DJ, and giveaways.

“We’re looking for the winner 1110. We have a winner…What’s your name young lady? Tamara, Let’s give a great round of applause for Tamara. She’s a winner,” Charles Willis said while leading a raffle giveaway.

Even Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch stopped by to show her support.

“Everything that’s been going on, they’re showing the community love,” a resident said after winning a prize. “This is their home. This is our home that we’re making with them, and we want them to know that we’re here with them in spite of what happened in that one moment,” manager Tameka Webb added.

That’s a sentiment that greets residents at the front door of the rental office. A sign simply says, “We are here for you.”

“It has a whole new, what do you call it, feel out here. It’s a new feel. The kids are coming back out, making the community joyful, watching them out on the playground playing, so yeah, it’s a new feel,” Kelly said.

After the crime happened, managers connected victims and their families with mental health resources to help them get through. Now, Westover Elementary School is looking to bring activities on-site each week such as food, games and activities to keep young people engaged.

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