Just inside the security gate at Fairmont Terrace, an apartment complex on East 60th Street just east of South Peoria Avenue, the mixture of grief and anger showed in ways not easily described. Men gestured violently, their voices rising; an older woman cast her eyes downward.
The father of the three-year-old boy found among the bodies stood stoically within a group of more than a half-dozen people, headphones around his neck. The mother, an ex-girlfriend, had lived at the complex for about two or three years, he said. Police had not yet released her name at press time.
She was among four shooting victims -- all women, all found dead -- discovered in an apartment around midday Jan. 7, and as darkness fell around the television spotlights, very little seemed clear to those in that group as they wondered aloud what might be the latest news about the police investigation.
The feelings of family and friends won't be resolved easily, if ever.
Also sure to linger long after the victims are laid to rest is the neighborhood's unease.
At the nearby South Tulsa Community House, Kathy Ridgway, executive director, said she was around when the word hit of the apparent slayings.
"We have GED classes here, and a lot of girls that come to the classes live there," Ridgway said. When they heard of the grisly discovery, "everybody was pretty shocked and pretty stunned."
She said there's been work in the community "to increase safety and lighting and everybody's sense of peace, so it's a shocker, it sets you back a little bit." She added: "Without knowing a lot of the details, what the motivation was, what can you say about it, other than it's going to traumatize the residents of Fairmont."
Though a quadruple slaying stands out, it's not the only shooting to take place at the beleaguered site. In September, a 19-year-old resident, Robert Max Long, was found shot dead inside an apartment, according to published reports. In August, a 24-year-old man, Quincy D. Jones, was fatally shot at the apartments.
Lanny Endicott, director of the social work program at Oral Roberts University, has long been involved with community service work in the neighborhood.
Overall, the neighborhood is safe, he said.
"You do have some nice homes. You do have some close neighbors. The crime is not in those areas," Endicott said. "Most of the crime that occurs in that neighborhood is around the apartment complexes."
People who live there often have little choice, Ridgway said.
"It's Section 8 housing, and when you are financially struggling as badly as some of these people are, you live where they will pay the bill. They're kind of relegated sometimes to where is my job," Ridgway said.
In October, apartment management attempted to ramp up security, according to various news reports. The building is owned by Solrey Properties, based on information from the website for the California-based company (legal records show ownership is split between two limited liability companies). On the Solrey website, the 336-unit property is described as "affordable living at its best."
Owners did not respond to an email request for comment. The Tulsa City Council in October passed a resolution supporting an application for tax credits from a new potential ownership group, Midwest Development Partners, LLC.
A Kansas City, Mo.-based consultant for the group, Pete Marrone, said that while the property was under contract, the deal had not been finalized.
The most recent shooting is "a consideration" in the pending deal, he said.
"It just happened today, and, again, I don't have a lot of information, so I can't really say whether it will have an impact on our ultimate decision," Marrone said just a couple of hours after the incident was reported by various news outlets.
The shooting took place in District 9, represented by Councilor G.T. Bynum.
"My first thought is just that I don't know how many times we have to keep experiencing things that leave Tulsans shaking their heads and saying, 'That's not supposed to happen in this community.' And this is another one of those," Bynum said, referencing other notable shootings in recent months, including a shooting at a Best Buy electronics store that killed two men.
He said "a lack of good tips" to police can be frustrating in a number of these crimes. "I don't think the general community at large understands that an anonymous tip in the City of Tulsa is an anonymous tip. There's no way for it to be traced back to a person," Bynum said.
As a policymaker, he said he spoke with Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan to see if the department had enough resources to work the case, and was told that it wasn't an issue in this case. He acknowledged the density of apartments in that part of Tulsa is less than ideal, however.
"When you have this volume of concentration of apartments set up in this fashion, it creates crime challenges, and that's something that the police department has faced for years. That's why this is such a hot spot," Bynum said.
Endicott said a survey done by ORU students estimated that about 1,400 Section 8 apartment units exist in the neighborhood, and he said he guessed the total is likely higher. In the wake of the shooting, he said he was strongly considering speaking with police about hosting a community meeting of some sort in an effort address public safety concerns.
Ridgway said her organization will offer crisis counseling for anyone who feels the need to talk about the event.
"There are young mothers that come to our classes, so they personalize those issues. And it's very alarming to them," Ridgway said.
The morning after the shooting, Andrea Smith was studying for her GED at the South Tulsa Community House, located just a short walk away from the Fairmont Terrace complex.
A resident there for about 14 months, she said she didn't feel safe allowing her three boys, who range in age from three to nine, to play outside. When she saw police en masse at the complex, she said she knew instantly there had been a murder: "That's normal out there," she added, complaining about lax security at the site.
"It's just crazy. I think they should just shut the apartment down," Smith said.
Anyone with information about the incident may call anonymously at 918-596-COPS. To speak with a detective, call 918-596-9133.
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