March 1 2016 06:39 AM

Man shot, killed at troubled housing facility

TUESDAY. March 1 – Lansing police have determined that a shooting death overnight was a homicide at 3200 South Washington Ave., a troubled public housing facility residents call “The Tower of Terror.”

The victim was a black male about 20 years old who was shot in an apartment, the police said. One resident, who wished to remain anonymous for fear for his safety, said he heard “four or five gunshots” at about 5:15 this morning. He told City Pulse that the body of a man was in his fifth floor hallway, “covered in a sheet.”

The Lansing Housing Commission facility, known officially as South Washington Park Apartments, has been the site of complaints for years about crime and sanitation issues, such as bed bugs and human feces and urine in the hallways, common areas and elevators. Besides documenting those problems, City Pulse has reported on large and aggressive crowds blocking entryways, threats to tenants, large fights, guns and drugs.

In August City Pulse spent several days at the complex talking to residents ages 27 to 65, on and off the record. All expressed fear for their safety or fear of retaliation from management if they used their real names. LHC officials deny that they retaliate against residents who raise concerns.

Following a conversation with City Pulse, a man approached two people who had spoken with a reporter and within in earshot threatened to “blow your fucking brains out” for having spoken.

In February, the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety held a meeting on the troubled property. During that meeting, Third Ward Councilman Adam Hussain said he had visited the facility and found the front door, which is supposed to be only openable with security cards, was not secure. Hussain said all he had to do was “lightly tug” on the security door and “it opened right up.”

“I told people this was a murder waiting to happen,” Hussain said today. "I am angry.”

The resident who spoke with City Pulse said the door remained broken as of this morning.

That news particularly angered Hussain, since he said the door was specifically discussed in a City Council Committee of Public Safety meeting last month with the chairman of the housing authority’s board, Tony Baltimore, and its executive director, Patricia Baines-Lake.

Lansing Police spokesman Robert Merritt declined to discuss whether the broken security door played a role in the murder. He also declined to discuss if the murder was related to ongoing undercover drug operations in the facility. That probe was also discussed at the Council committee meeting.