After 3 die in a suspicious Old Louisville apartment fire, an investigation uncovers a history of crime
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- On July 2, you could see flames shooting out of the building and smoke filling the air.
It all unfolded along South Second Street and a small memorial now stands out front to remember the three people who died.
But when you talk to neighbors, you realize there was a lot happening inside the building that should have caused alarm.
“No, not at all. I wasn't surprised a bit,” said neighbor Rick Hughes when asked about the tragic events.
A WDRB investigation uncovered new information about the Old Louisville home where three people died in a suspicious fire.
EMS and the fire department visited the building 28 times in the last two years, mainly for medical runs.
When you look at police runs, the number jumps.
Documents show police officers were dispatched to the home 197 times in the in the last two years for problems at the apartment building.
“That is a higher than average number for an apartment building,” said Sergeant Harry Webster with LMPD’s 4th Division.
It averages out to eight times a month, and a majority of the calls made were trouble runs, calls about domestic violence and disorderly conduct.
“The trouble runs can average from your neighbors being loud, to loud music outside, the neighbors are fighting or something to that degree which would run into some of the domestic violence calls as well,” said Sgt. Harry Webster.
The 911 log detailing every time police responded to this address show they were sometimes called two days in a row, or even several times in one day.
Two trouble runs were made the week before the fire.
One was a 911 hangup call. The other was a call for the Crisis Intervention Team.
According to the documents, both were cleared without a report taken.
Neighbors say there was a lot of trouble inside the building.
“Oh yes," neighbor Rick hughes said when asked if there had fights at the building. "I've had to call the police many times myself."
They say it was common to see police at the apartment building.
In fact, some expected it.
“Policemen over there, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it wasn't every other day,” said neighbor Pat Giles.
“Prostitution, drugs, everything else. Crime. It's hard living next door to it,” said neighbor Rick Hughes.
Of the 197 runs, we could only find 9 reports taken. They were for domestic violence, assault, drugs, and burglary.
Sergeant Harry Webster tells WDRB that runs are often cleared without a report, or ruled "unfounded" if officers can't get into the building, or don't find an active situation.
“These buildings can be secured, requiring the entry of the occupants and it could be a neighbor calling in on that building, so we can't get into that building to resolve the issue,” said Sgt. Webster.
Still, police say nearly 200 runs in two years is unusually high.
"We've increased the amount of walking patrols. That was a real thing that the neighborhood wanted. We've done that now, each of the officers does two 15 minute walks per day,” said Sgt. Harry Webster.
Howard Rosenberg, Chairman of the Old Louisville Neighborhood Council, says studies show crime in Old Louisville is not any higher than crime in the Highlands, NuLu or Portland areas.
He says the council tries to promote positive activity in the area, and that members meet with police and council members to address the crime that they do have.
“We have meetings on a regular basis to deal with these issues, so we try and stay active in terms of being proactive to avoid problems that may come up,” said Howard Rosenberg.
He does have concern about an apartment building that has had nearly 200 police runs in two years
"Why isn't the landlord held accountable,” Rosenberg asked.
Police admit, it's a place that is now grabbing their attention.
“It's not an area where we have a lot of problems. It's just this one location that's standing out to us now,” said Sgt. Webster.
While arson investigators keep looking into an exact cause of the fire at this apartment building where police responded so often, authorities say it brings to light a bigger issue.
“The calls for service should have been an indicator that we have an issue there,that maybe we have missed, but I appreciate that you brought it to our attention. We can bring that now as a primary focus,” said Sgt. Webster.
“There was a lot of activity going on there that had people concerned, maybe it wouldn't have turned out being a fire, but that's problematic in and of itself,” said Howard Rosenberg.
We tried to track down the landlord, but were not able to make contact with him.
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