HOUSTON– The fights, the shootings, the drugs and the guns, is it home sweet home — or home sweet war zone? NewsFix went inside Haverstock Hill, which is considered one of the most notorious apartments in the Houston area.
Children on a playground at the complex casually told NewsFix what they commonly see.
“There’s a lot of people getting killed over here,” one child said.
“Five people got shot,” a young girl, appearing to be no more than 5 or 6 years old, told us.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office would not release crime stats for the community, but the people who live, or previously lived, on the property said the casualties are high.
“It’s all kind of stuff, prostution and drugs, gang banging everything. You’ve got guys walking around with guns on them,” said Thomas Murray. “One time coming through that walkway, two guys with some pistols stopped me and robbed me. I had $80. Then they took my Benz.”
“Drugs, prostitution, these gang bangers; hey,” Tyeseha Butler said.
Shereka Burton called Haverstock Hill home for nine months. It was a tumultuous time she may never forget.
“I’ll tell you my first memory here. It was my first time ever experiencing the jump out police. There was some guys smoking and the cops pulled out, I’m talking guns to their head because they were smoking,” she said.
Burton stayed long enough to go to school and get back on her feet, and she got out of Haverstock as quickly as possible.
She went back for the first time with the protection of the NewsFix crew to give us an inside look.
“It feels different. I`m glad I don’t live here anymore,” she said.
Burton said she kept her doors locked, stayed to herself and prayed every time she heard gunshots.
“It felt like I was in jail every day,” she said. “I’m hoping nothing happens while we’re here,” she said.
Her discomfort was visible during our visit. Burton was constantly looking over her shoulders.
During a walk-around of the complex, NewsFix met Tanisha Thomas, a young mother who now lives in Burton’s old unit. The two women discovered that Thomas hides in the same bathroom where Burton once hid when bullets started flying. It is the only room in the apartment without windows.
“Sometimes it gets scary, there’s too much going on, like shooting sometimes. I run in the restroom,” Thomas said.
Not much has changed. Residents say they can not remember when was the last time the entrance gates worked, and anyone can easily get in. It was easy for the NewsFix crew to get in as well.
So did the gunmen who, without warning, opened fire on people sitting on a staircase at Building Six, killing Christopher Beatty and Wayne Rusher.
In an instant, the life of former America’s Next Top Model contestant, Brandy Rusher, was undone.
Her boyfriend and one of her brothers died, and her other two brother’s — Isiah Rusher– and Beatty’s brother — Arthur — were fighting to stay alive.
Brandy was scarred for her life, also being shot. She suffered gunshot wounds in the shoulder and buttocks.
Those wounds now prevent the young mother and hairstylist from earning a living to care for her newborn.
There was no police presence at the time of the shooting, which occurred right across from the playground.
“This is not the wild, wild west. This area is where families and residents live,”Burton said.
“There are a lot of kids out here. For the safety of the kids, they need to step up the security. Find a plan to stop all the violence,” Murray said.
So what has been done since the shooting?
A lawsuit on behalf of the victims has been filed against the apartment complex, and a playground beautification
project was implemented by the management in hopes of bringing forth change.
The residents now want the management to do more and step up with measures on keeping them safe.
“They need to put more security here. They be here but just parked and the bad guys are just passing them by,” Butler explained.
For now, the residents are relying on themselves.
“I’m just trying to get out of here; something better,” Thomas said.