APRIL 5, 2012 11:20AM

Bullets Fly at Private Developer's Student-Housing Complex

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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

Fifteen to 20 shots were fired when a resident of The Grove apartment complex was murdered last month near Austin Peay State University at Clarksville, Tennessee.

Shardae Wright, a 23-year-old member of the U.S. Army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was shot and killed in her apartment on March 3. Nicholas Rico Durant, who was described as Wright's boyfriend, has been arrested in the case. It now is being reported that Wright and Durant were married, and Durant also is a soldier.

A preliminary hearing was conducted recently, and Durant is being held without bond. An eyewitness said he saw a man fire almost 20 shots in and around Wright's apartment on the night of the murder. The witness was identified as Joshua Day, an Austin Peay student who was attending a party at The Grove. It's not clear if Day was a resident at the complex.

The Grove is the brand name for apartments developed by Charlotte-based Campus Crest Communities. Ted Rollins, CEO of Campus Crest Communities, has been the subject of frequent posts at Legal Schnauzer for his role in a divorce action that was handled unlawfully here in Shelby County, Alabama. I've called Rollins v. Rollins the most grotesque courtroom cheat job I've encountered in the civil arena.

Ted Rollins has about 30 student-housing facilities near colleges and universities around the country. Based on the statements of Austin Peay student Joshua Day, life at one of those complexes sounds like a scene out of the wild, wild west. From NewsChannel5.com:

An Austin Peay student and eyewitness to the crime also took the stand. The student told the jury he saw a man fire seven to ten shots into the apartment and then eight more rounds when he was inside. Police are confident that man was Wright's newlywed husband and fellow Fort Campbell soldier, Nicholas Durant.

A report in Army Times picks up on that theme:

Joshua Day, an Austin Peay State University student, testified he heard the shooting and saw a man he later identified as Durant, firing several shots into the apartment.

“I was at Building 7 . . . there was a party going on and I was in the commons area of the stairs,” Day said. “All of a sudden, I heard gunshots . . . a man was standing in front of the door and began to shoot.”

Day said he saw the side of the man’s face, saw smoke and saw flashes. He said he heard seven to eight shots and then heard three to five muffled shots, and then saw a man running away.

“I waited 15 to 20 minutes and saw no one else,” Day said. “I knocked on the door and the frame of the door was busted. I pushed it and asked if everyone was OK. There was no response. I was on the phone with police.”

Day said he walked halfway into the living room, saw a door with a hole in it and exited the apartment.

How did the event affect those who were at The Grove that night? This from Army Times provides the answer:

Detective DeMone Chestnut testified police found Wright in the bathtub, in the fetal position with multiple gunshots and an emptied firearm underneath her head.

The gun, a Tek9, was identified as belonging to Durant, who was observed holding the gun on his public Facebook page, Chestnut said. A carrying case matching the gun was found in the stairwell. . . .

Chestnut testified Wright lived in Unit B of the apartment and was found in the bathroom of Unit C. Blood was found in various places.

A woman who witnessed the shooting was not present Wednesday to testify. Chestnut said the woman was in a medical facility because of the trauma of the shooting.

Could steps be taken to enhance security at The Grove locations and make it less likely that such events take place? The answer appears to be yes. We received the following comment on a previous post:

As a former grove employee I asked numerous times to have a security officer at our community and was told no because it cost too much. I asked for half rent off in return for a patrol (security actually walking property from 10pm-4am 7 days a week and was told no that security is up to the residents to make sure they are not being followed to their apartment and if there is an issue they can call police themselves or the after hour phone. Guess what after hour phone is kept by an employee which is a college student and most of the time doesn't answer it because they are partying or asleep. Go figure issues within the groves. The owners are VERY quick to point blame on onsite management when onsite management is scrutinized daily and are told no no no to every idea given to improve the property because it might take away from the funds they need to throw their annual 300k party for management.

March 29, 2012 2:47 PM

We have sent written questions about security and other issues to Ted Rollins. One of his residents is dead, and a woman who was at the scene is under medical care because of the trauma, but Ted Rollins has not responded. In fact, we are not aware of any public statement from Mr. Rollins about the victim of a murder at one of his apartments. It's as if he hopes Shardae Wright will quietly go away.

It appears that Ms. Wright had friends and family members who do not intend for that to happen. Here is a video they produced in her honor:

Video: Tribute to Shardae Wright

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