On Nov. 11, Arkansas Baptist College student Shaderio Logan,19, was shot as two intruders tried to break into the housing the college provides for him at Avondale Apartments on Reservoir Road. Logan survived the shooting, but just days earlier, another student at Avondale, Kylaus Williams, 22, was fatally shot, his body dumped in a driveway in the North Little Rock neighborhood of Rixie. Williams was the student body's second homicide victim in six months.
According to Little Rock police spokesman Lt. Terry Hastings, the shootings are not connected. "I suspect they're drug or robbery related. Drugs are a big part of our problem at those apartments," he said. The Logan case is still under investigation. Lt. Carl Minden with the Pulaski County sheriff's office confirmed that the Williams case is drug related and that three men were arrested in Arizona in connection with the homicide.
According to Hastings, the LRPD filed 96 incident reports from the complex in 2010. Thus far in 2011, there have been 169 reports filed. Hastings acknowledged that this is an extraordinary ratio for 206 units.
"I've lived here for a year," said Marquette Govan, 20, an Arkansas Baptist sophomore studying criminal justice. "I don't feel safe at all. There's supposed to be security at night, but he just sits right there in his little truck and doesn't move." She indicated the area in front of her building. Actually, two guards patrol the complex at night. Avondale has its own courtesy officer, and Arkansas Baptist employs additional private security.
Govan is one of 73 Arkansas Baptist students occupying 30 apartments at Avondale. Arkansas Baptist students living at Avondale have been victims of break-ins, burglaries and automobile vandalism. But Govan's friend LaPorsha Meanus, a 21-year-old education major at Arkansas Baptist, thinks the students are also perpetrators. "When I've been out here, I've seen fights started by students," she said.
When Dr. Fitz Hill became president of Arkansas Baptist in 2007, his mission was to recruit more students — particularly those who "wouldn't have a chance at traditional schools," according to director of communications, Terri Clark. Hill introduced a football program that helped enrollment jump from about 179 to its current 1,193.
With the 2010 addition of a men's 192-bed residence hall, the college can house 343 students on-campus. A new woman's residence hall is expected to open in fall 2012. Arkansas Baptist's goal is to house all students on campus, but for now, it's had to explore other options.
In 2009 and 2010, Arkansas Baptist housed its overflow at Coleman Place, a 132-unit, gated complex near the University of Arkansas Little Rock. Coleman Place caters to students. It rents by the room, employs nightly security and invites both students and parents to on-site social mixers. Arkansas Baptist's arrangement with Coleman was similar to its current deal with Avondale. Students paid the school, which leased the apartments under its name.
"I think they kicked us out of Coleman Place, which is why we're here," said Govan. A manager at Coleman Place refused to discuss why Arkansas Baptist students are no longer housed in the complex. Gourjoine Wade, director of housing for Arkansas Baptist, said the move was a mutual decision, based on both "maintenance and disciplinary issues."
Meanus lived at Coleman Place last year. "It wasn't like here. You couldn't have loud music, no one could hang around outside. Security is very strict," she said.
But police records show that crime is increasing at Coleman Place as well. In 2010, when Arkansas Baptist students were still at the complex, police filed 57 incident reports. Thus far in 2011, they've filed 63 — one of which was a homicide.
Meanus doesn't live at Avondale, but she frequently visits Govan.
"One night I almost got shot," she said. "There were some guys arguing [in the parking lot], and a guy walking around with a gun. I got mistaken for one of the guys." Meanus runs her hand across her shorn hair. "This young lady said, 'that's him right there,' and points to me. I took off my shirt, so he could see I was a girl, and just ran."
Govan also had what she considers a close call. Initially the housing department made a mistake, placing her and another girl in the apartment where Logan was recently shot. "We got moved out about two weeks later, because boys and girls weren't supposed to be together," she said. "But when I stayed in that apartment, the locks were faulty. They didn't lock at all, and we were trying to get them fixed by maintenance people. When I moved they still weren't fixed. The people who broke in, they might have just known that the doors were like that."
Gary Stubblefield, the on-site manager at Avondale for just a month, declined comment on the Logan shooting. Arkansas Times e-mails to regional manager Jera Harris were unreturned. But a week after the shooting, Logan's door is dead-bolted. There's a gap in the door frame, which may be attributed to the intruders who, according to the police report, tried to forcibly open the door despite its latched chain. The intruder shot through the door, hitting Logan in the lower back.
As far as Govan knows, Avondale didn't report the shooting to Arkansas Baptist. "I'm a community assistant, which means I report on things that happen out here." When she learned of the shooting, she called Arkansas Baptist's housing department. "No one knew anything about it," she said.
Housing director Wade confirmed that he learned of the shooting from Govan. "We're concerned about what's going on at Avondale, and we're currently looking into other housing options," he said, although he didn't feel at liberty to discuss those options. According to Wade, the college will relocate the students as soon as other arrangements are made.