Neighbors, residents speak out about infamous La Crosse apartment

Published On: Oct 02 2012 06:12:00 PM CDT   Updated On: Dec 10 2012 10:44:39 AM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Residents and neighbors are speaking out about an infamous apartment complex in La Crosse.

It's the site of drug deals, shootings, car thefts, fires and domestic violence.

The landlord of the eight-unit apartment complex at 1321 South Fourth St. is facing some serious fines -- more than $1,100. Police gave him a chronic nuisance ticket because they've been called out there so often, and they're billing him for some of their services.

On Saturday night, Robert Long was sitting on his bed in his first-floor apartment, cradling his infant in his arms, when a bullet came sailing through the wall.

"I was scared, I thought something was going on with him, I thought he was hurt, I thought he was going to die and then I thought he was just going to be the only brother that was here," said Long’s fiancée, Danelle Thomas, holding the infant in one hand and motioning to her toddler with the other.

It missed the two of them by just a few inches.

That was the last straw for Thomas. Her family is moving out of the apartment next month.

“These two and my niece don't need to be around this," she said.

But Jason Devine and his girlfriend Kaila Langrehr, whose house is just yards away, aren't going anywhere.

They're going to stay and fight back.

"Why should we have to move and give our neighborhood to the drug dealers?" said Devine.

They said stories like Thomas' are far too familiar at 1321 South Fourth St.

“If it's not drug dealing, it's a fight that breaks out, or it's gunshots," said Devine.

A car stolen from the apartment complex turned up this weekend in a Culver’s parking lot in Sparta -- on fire.

Just over the weekend, Devine got video of police busting down a door to arrest a man accused of beating up his girlfriend. Later that night, Devine took another video of paramedics rushing to the apartment complex after someone else in the building was stabbed.

"What happens when a little kid gets hit by one of these stray bullets? Or me, or her, or one of our neighbors? What happens then? What's it going to take? When is enough, enough? Because we don't know the answers anymore. We went to the mayor, we went to the police, we went to city council," said Devine.

And Langrehr said it would be a shame to let properties like this one ruin a city where there is so much good.

"One or two bad properties should not take down the entire neighborhood. This is downtown La Crosse. This should be prime real estate, not 'the hood.' You know, this is not the ghetto. It shouldn't be," said Langrehr.

A representative from Century 21 said the landlord recently sold the building to someone else.

Devine said he hopes the new landlord knows what he's getting into.