After string of violence, youth organization leader hopes to put cameras in Knoxville’s Lonsdale Homes

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Lonsdale community has seen its share of tragedy. Almost 21 years ago, Brittany Daniels, 5, was shot by a stray bullet in Lonsdale Homes. Zaevion Dobson, 15, was killed in 2015 shielding friends from gunfire in the same neighborhood. Xavier Shell was shot and Dwayne Goins was killed just last month.

One youth organization leader is looking for a way to stop the violence.

“Lonsdale’s violence has been concentrated in very few areas,” said Clayton Wood with Thrive Lonsdale. “It’s a discreet problem and so with a discreet solution, having cameras up around there, we think we can prevent violence and when violence occurs make sure those who perpetrate it are brought to justice.”

Wood with believes adding cameras to areas of Lonsdale would discourage violence and help catch those committing crimes.

“It’s really something that we want whenever anything violent occurs, to be able to check the tape,” said Wood. “When people go to jail for felony murder for driving the car where someone shot someone who died, after that, people will know you can’t get away with anything in Lonsdale.”

Those living in Lonsdale say they are tired of violence and want something done.

“Shootings and stuff that happen to not just my child but somebody else’s child, I wouldn’t know what to do just to hear somebody else’s child was taken away from them,” said Paris Wilson. “I have a five year old child, it’s the majority a lot of little children out hear playing and it’s very important to have some kind of security around.”

Wood says he has contacted Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation about cameras. A spokesperson with KCDC says they are looking into it, but it is in the early stages. The city of Knoxville and Knoxville police would also have to be involved.

KCDC Executive Director Ben Bentley released the following statement regarding the violence in Lonsdale Homes:

“To all those directly affected by the March 25 incident at Lonsdale Homes, Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC) Board of Commissioners and staff extend our thoughts and prayers. KCDC is cooperating and supporting the Knoxville Police Department (KPD) in its investigation and in its efforts to rid our community of gang violence.

KCDC is committed to creating a safe environment for its residents. KCDC contracts with the KPD to provide protective measures, which include officers devoting 9,300 staff hours annually on our properties, and we will continue to explore new funding opportunities which will allow us to increase neighborhood patrols.

In 2008, KCDC completed an extensive renovation of Lonsdale Homes, which decreased the density from 300 to 260 units. A five-year analysis conducted by KPD showed a significant reduction in crime since the renovation. KCDC will continue to emphasize safety in the design, maintenance and operations of our facilities, incorporating the concepts of Defensible Space Theory, including the importance of clear sight lines; strategic positioning of landscaping and structures; and improved common-area lighting.”

In 2012, KCDC enacted a safety awareness program to educate residents about reporting suspicious nonresidents at KCDC properties as well as any other suspicious behavior. The program also challenged residents to form neighborhood associations that could partner with KCDC and KPD to keep their communities safe. KCDC will redouble its efforts in this area, ensuring residents feel educated and empowered to form and participate in neighborhood associations.

KCDC has worked diligently to repair the structures that were damaged in the incident. To further reassure residents, KCDC has requested additional patrols by KPD officers, and we will continue to take the steps necessary to create safer living conditions for the families we serve.”

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