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Judge orders stricter surveillance on problem apartment complex

A Las Vegas apartment complex that has been the site of four homicides, 18 shootings and hundreds of police calls was ordered by a judge on Thursday to stop accepting new leases, hire a contractor and have around-the-clock police protection.

In response to a complaint filed by the Clark County district attorney’s office arguing that said property management was operating without a license in unsafe conditions, District Judge Jessica Peterson ordered two apartment staff members to walk around the Apex Apartments all day in case of fires while the fire alarms are replaced.

“There have been issues with this property,” Peterson said during Thursday’s hearing. “There have been deaths at this property. I am certainly not going to be the judge that sits up here and doesn’t do anything about that. I also don’t want to be the judge that displaces 80 people onto the streets with nowhere to go.”

Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Ammon Peacock said at Thursday’s hearing that an officer is already on property at all hours, but one officer was not enough to control the squatting problem at the complex as well as any police calls. The apartments are located at 905 and 955 East Twain Ave.

“To me, if security was on the site 24/7, these break-ins would not happen,” he said. “They happen when security is not there.”

The district attorney’s office filed a complaint on April 21 against Apex Apartments and its owners after the Clark County Commission voted to authorize the prosecution.

The district attorney’s office, represented by Timothy Allen wrote in the complaint that there have been 67 arrests in the last six months but management has not fixed any safety issues.

Travis Smith, who has lived at the complex since 2014, said crime has decreased since Metro started patrolling the area, but he has not had air conditioning in over a year and many apartments have holes in the roofs.

Smith lives with his two children and his fiancée in his apartment. He said squatters continue to open up boarded up apartments and management doesn’t answer his calls or emails.

“I just want you to fix it,” Smith said during Thursday’s hearing, addressing the defendants, who were not present. “There’s a lot of people there with kids that have nowhere to go.”

Jason Hicks, an attorney who represented Apex and its California owners, Pratik Jogani and Dave Sumail, could not be reached for comment after the hearing.

Commissioner Tick Segerblom told the Review-Journal after the hearing he would like the county to take over the property. If Peterson orders the complex to close, Segerblom said the county does not currently have a place to house the residents.

“This apartment complex is my number one problem,” he said after the hearing. “I’ve learned so much about how little ability we have to shut someone down even when they don’t have a business license … The fact is we’re going to get these guys and make sure it’s habitable.”

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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