13-year-old Nizzear Rodriguez was reportedly shot and killed while sleeping in his Bristol Lakes apartment bedroom August 24, 2014.
According to New York Daily News, Mr. Rodriguez was sleeping in his Bristol Lakes home, only hours after celebrating his 13th birthday, when an intruder broke into his bedroom, fatally shooting the young boy. Police originally believed Mr. Rodriguez was the victim of a drive-by shooting. However, after closer examination, police apparently determined an intruder broke into the Rodriguez apartment and shot the child while he slept in his bed, between 1:00am and 3:00am.
It appears Mr. Rodriguez was the victim of mistaken identity. Per media reports, a Friday, September 12th hearing revealed the alleged gunman broke into the apartment “with the intention of killing a rival gang member who lived next door to Rodriguez, but entered the wrong home.”
Five people have since been arrested in connection with the murder. Witnesses report one of these suspects was seen waving a gun around the apartment complex hours prior to the shooting.
Gang activity has apparently plagued the apartment complex, leaving many residents fearful for their safety. Kanisha Osorio, Nizzear Rodriguez’s aunt, reportedly told media that the family had been making plans to move prior to the shooting because they felt the complex was dangerous.
Mr. Rodriguez was a “top-notch student” at Carrollton Junior High School, according toPrincipal Dr. Todd Simpson. “Nizzear was a wonderful student, well liked and always smiling.”
Many in the Carrollton community are now seeking answers and justice in the death of this young man who had such a bright future.
Our Legal Take
While relieved the police have captured suspects in connection with this horrific shooting, The Murray Law Firm is questioning whether Bristol Lakes Apartments may also hold responsibility in this tragedy.
What security measures were implemented by the apartment owner and management following previous gang activity on and near property?
The alleged gunman was apparently seen waving a gun around the apartment complex only hours before the shooting. Was there a security presence on property at this time and, if so, what efforts were made to alert police prior to the break-in and shooting?
Is the gunman a resident of Bristol Lakes and, if not, how was he able to gain access to the property? What security measures, such as access-controlled gates, fencing, bright lighting, ID card systems, surveillance cameras, and security patrols, were in place to deter crime and protect residents at the time of the shooting?
How did the intruders gain access to the Rodriguez home? What apartment security features, such as deadbolts, window and door security bars, and alarm systems, were available to protect the Rodriguez family at the time of the break-in?
The Murray Law Firm suggests it is possible that the owner and management of Bristol Lakes Apartments failed in their duty to protect young Nizzear Rodriguez. According to Georgia law, apartment owners are required to protect residents from any foreseeable harm. For example, should an apartment owner or manager have knowledge of previous violence on or near property, they have a duty to implement extraordinary security measures to protect residents from future violence. Should they fail in this duty, the apartment owner and management may be held civilly liable for any deaths or injuries that occur as a consequence.
Given the alleged history of violence on property, the family of Nizzear Rodriguez may elect to hold the apartment owner and management civilly liable in his wrongful death. Claims of this magnitude, potentially in the millions of dollars, will demand the apartment complex finally make resident safety their first priority. Further, such claims will call on local officials and law enforcement to crack down on gang activity and violence in this neighborhood. Perhaps, through these claims, many other young lives may be spared.
Photographs and a thorough inspection will need to be performed immediately before any evidence, such as broken fencing or surveillance footage, may be repaired, damaged or destroyed. The Rodriguez family should retain an experienced premises liability firm without delay to ensure all evidence is preserved and their best interests are protected.
The Murray Law Firm works tirelessly to protect victims of apartment violence and property negligence and we offer our legal expertise, if needed. Anyone seeking further information or legal representation is encouraged to contact us at 404.842.1600. Consultations are free and confidential.