Four homicides have been recorded in the past 17 months at apartments on the west side of a 3-mile stretch of Central Parkway Southwest, leaving some residents worried but others considering moves.
Decatur police say the homicides are likely coincidental and not related.
“After a review of evidence and statistical data, we believe there to be no correlation between the four crimes and their locations,” Decatur police spokeswoman Emily Long said Wednesday afternoon.
All of the homicides were within about two blocks of Central Parkway between Eighth Street and Courtney Drive.
In the latest slaying, Shadeed Abdul Fuqua, 29, 209 Memorial Drive, S.W., Decatur, was charged with murder in the death of Jarmaine Cardell Jones, 27, of North Courtland, on Nov. 21.
Jones was found outside of Building F at Decatur Place Apartments at 304 Courtney Drive S.W. with gunshot wounds. He was transported to Decatur Morgan Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The following day Fuqua turned himself in at the Morgan County Jail. He was released at 6:39 p.m. Sunday on $150,000 bail posted by Pronto Bail Bonds, according to jail records. Court records do not list an active attorney for Fuqua.
According to a Decatur police affidavit by Detective Sean Mukaddam, the shooter fled the Decatur Place Apartment complex before law enforcement officers arrived on the scene.
During the course of the investigation, Mukaddam developed Fuqua as a person of interest, the affidavit said.
“Fuqua was placed in a six-person photographic lineup, which was presented to an eye witness. This witness was able to pick Fuqua out of the lineup as the person who shot and killed Jones,” Mukaddam wrote in the affidavit.
A few units down from Building F, Crystal Cole said she has been living there about a year and doesn’t fear for her life after the shooting. She said the Oct. 31 fire that destroyed eight apartments and displaced eight families at the complex is also a non-issue in her life.
“I pretty much keep to myself on my porch or I’m in my house,” said Cole, a native of Shreveport, Louisiana. “I feel like the killing down a few apartments on the corner has nothing to do with me. I’m not afraid. It’s just something that happened.”
She did say she was surprised to hear Fuqua was already out of jail.
ST Fuqua has lived at Decatur Place Apartments for about 14 years, he said. “I feel the shooting was isolated and no reflection on the apartment complex,” he said. The 78-year-old Decatur resident said he is distantly related to the murder suspect but has never met him.
And the fire? “I still feel it was just an accident,” he said.
Jones, the victim, was a 2011 graduate of R.A. Hubbard High in North Courtland, where he was first-team all-state in football and basketball his senior year in high school.
Last month inside the Beltline and just off Central Parkway, a Decatur man was accused of fatally cutting the throat of his girlfriend in the early morning hours of Oct. 24 on Blue Bird Lane Southwest before asking his brother to drive him to Knoxville, Tennessee, according to a police affidavit filed in Morgan County District Court.
Bernandino Miguel Matias, 19, remains in Morgan County Jail charged with murder and his bail is set at $250,000 in the death of Tania Rico, 16, an Austin High School sophomore. The police said the slaying happened at Bluebird Apartments.
His attorney, Paul Ray Holland of Decatur, said a preliminary hearing is set for 9 a.m. Monday in circuit court but he expects the hearing to be continued because of conflicting schedules.
“At this point, my client plans to plead not guilty,” Holland said Wednesday afternoon. “But we’re still in the beginning stages of a long process in the judicial system.”
A pair of neighbors of Rico’s said last month they were considering moving because of the increasing violence.
Sandra Coleman, who lives in the nearby Alta Visa Manor Apartment across an open field from the victim’s home, said recent violence has her looking for another place to live. And Ron Wright, who lives one quadplex west of the crime scene, is considering a move.
“It’s shocking to us,” said Coleman, who has lived in her apartment for six years with her three children and cat Baby Dee. “It was horrific happening to a child. When I moved here, this was a safe place, but it’s not safe anymore. We hear shots sometime at night. The gun violence has gotten worse. Nine out of 10 kids walking down the street have guns. I’m looking for a house. I’m tired of living near people and not knowing if you’re going to get shot or not.”
Wright, a 68-year-old retired truck driver, has lived in the Bluebird Apartments for about 10 years. He said in recent years, violent crime has increased to the point he has become uneasy. He said he’s seen issues in the complex with guns and knives.
“I think a fellow was shot over here a couple of years ago because of dope,” Wright said pointing to the same quadplex where Rico lived. “If it gets any closer, we’ll have to move.”
Bluebird Apartments is just south of another apartment unit where a December shooting resulted in the death of a Hartselle man.
Police said Anthony Lewis, 35, died a day after being shot in an area near Parkway Place Apartments, 2115 Central Parkway S.W.
Lewis was found in the driver’s seat of a 2007 Lincoln MKX on the afternoon of Dec. 21 at Central Parkway Southwest and Beltline Road, and police have said they believe Lewis drove there from the Parkway Place area.
Lashawn Kentrell Caudle, 37, of 201 Blue Bird Lane S.W., Apt. 4, was charged with capital murder in Lewis' death. He has been held in Morgan County Jail without bail since turning himself in to Decatur police Dec. 27. There is no bail for defendants charged with capital murder in Alabama. Caudle was indicted by a Morgan County grand jury in September.
In July 2018, Brian Richard Belisle, 29, was charged with murdering Christopher Devon Preston, 31, in the 200 block of Eighth Street Southwest, which is between Central Parkway and the Aquadome Recreation Center.
Police said Preston died of multiple gunshot wounds at apartments at 218 Eighth St. S.W.
According to court records, Belisle remains in Morgan County Jail with bail set at $75,000. James McCauley Smith is his attorney. A jury trial for Smith is set for April 20, 2020.