MIAMI (CBS4) – Dozens of police officers and community members spanned out across Goulds’ Arthur Mays Villas to help stop the cycle of violence at the public housing project.
The group got together as part of the “One Stop” program—which offers job opportunities, free child care and help with electricity bills.
“I live here, I have seen the dead bodies over there,” said resident and community president Stephanie McIntosh. “We are losing our children constantly.”
Miami-Dade police say the Gould’s community is riddled with violent crimes; patrols have been increased in the area as a deterrent.
“Right now Arthur Mays Villas is experiencing the most crimes in south district,” said Major Adrienne Byrd with the Miami-Dade Police Department. “Residents here are very concerned. They’re concerned for their families, their children.”
As you walk through the property, there are baggies with crack-cocaine residue on the ground in plain sight and bullet holes in the walls of several homes. 25-year-old Casanova Atwater was shot and killed in March, he is the third murder victim in the area in just five months.
“I miss him so much that I just don’t know what to do,” said Casanova’s mother Patricia Atwater. “I’m just trying to find a way to keep going.”
To curb crime security cameras were installed at Arthur Mays Villas about two years ago, but many residents say they are often vandalized and don’t work. Atwater was killed just yards away from a camera, but when police tried to pull surveillance video to help track down the shooter, the wires had been cut.
“They can keep killing because nothing is going to happen to them,” said Shantay Atwater, Casanova’s sister. “The security cameras are not getting anything and this private company got paid all this money, taxpayer dollars for nothing.”
The Atwater family plan to sue the security company for failing to maintain and monitor the cameras.
Meanwhile, the “One Stop” group hopes to reach out to residents and help them break the cycle of violence. 20-year-old father Jeremy Anderson who was raised in the housing project says he is thankful for the opportunities.
“It’s a good thing,” said Anderson. “I think everybody should try and step into it and try and make things better for themselves.”
Others say they have been burned too many times to believe someone is here to help.
“Don’t just pop up here today and think this is just an overnight fix,” said McIntosh. “Miami-Dade public housing is not doing what they are supposed to be doing for the residents…enough is enough, it is outrageous.”