COLUMBUS, Ohio — A 14-year-old girl is still recovering after being shot inside the Wedgewood Village Apartments. It was just the latest example of a young person being affected by the ongoing violence in that area.
“I feel safe, but I can see how somebody wouldn’t feel safe,” said Julius Jefferson, who said he’s lived in Wedgewood for roughly two years. He’s seen the violence there. And so has his son.
“To be honest, I didn’t think he was going to see it so young,” Jefferson said.
10TV reached out to city leaders to get answers about what’s being done to stop the violence. 10TV contacted the Columbus Division of Police, along with the offices of Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein.
In the coming weeks, the city is planning to install new crime cameras at three locations: Wedgewood Drive and Sullivant Avenue, Wedgewood Drive and Briggs Road, and Wedgewood Drive and Eakin Road.
But there has been a larger conversation about safety at the complex taking place between city leaders and the Wedgewood Village owners for nearly a year. According to the city attorney’s office, that included drafting a proposed “memorandum of understanding” that owners would have included in a larger capital improvement plan financed by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. A finalized improvement plan never came to fruition and was scrapped back in April, so the MOU was never signed.
That MOU included several planned improvements, including more cameras, a special duty cruiser dedicated to Wedgewood, perimeter fencing, more dumpsters, a soccer field, and a potential takeover by the complex of part of Wedgewood Drive.
A spokesman for the city attorney’s office told 10TV, despite the MOU never being signed, discussions about those improvements were ongoing. He also noted that the property owners have made some progress.
But Zach Klein released this statement to 10TV:
“Wedgewood residents deserve better. The vast majority are trying to do the right thing, but criminals with no regard for human life continue to shoot at will, and innocent men, women and children are caught in the crossfire. It’s clear the measures taken by property owners to date do not go far enough to ensure the safety and security of residents and neighbors. Additional action by property owners to improve lighting, fencing and shore up other security deficiencies is urgent and it is necessary. My office and CPD are reviewing the latest shootings to determine if additional legal action is warranted at this time to stem the violence at Wedgewood. No child should fear playing outside. No family should have to worry if their kids will make it back from the bus stop after school. No tenant should have to live in fear of gunshots and violent crime at their doorstep.”
10TV also reached out to both the complex owner, American Community Developers, and the management company, Independent Management Services.
Jim Harrigan, with IMS, returned the call and spoke on behalf of both entities. He told 10TV he is deeply concerned about the violence at the complex and that the companies have been working closely with the city on investigations and improvements. But he added that he feels more focus should be placed on what he says is the root of the problem – a shortage of Columbus police officers.
Despite the ongoing discussions, there could still be consequences. According to the city attorney’s office, the city would be within its rights to file a nuisance abatement case against the property at any time, which could ultimately result in court-ordered fixes or a potential takeover and sale to new ownership