Even after two murders, police say Southside is safe

By Brian Entin - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Two murders on Savannah's Southside in just a couple of weeks, and people want to know why and if they're safe.

A community meeting organized by Savannah City Alderman Tony Thomas was held on Monday night.

Citizens say the murders are just the tip of the iceberg. They told police and other city officials they are worried about gang activity, robberies, and other crime in the area.

"I'm fearful to be in my neighborhood at this point," one resident told the police chief.

It was obvious by the sheer number of people packed into The Armstrong Center Auditorium that citizens are worried about a recent spike in crime on Savannah's Southside.

So many people showed up to the meeting that the room became full and hundreds were turned away.

Police Chief Willie Lovett tried to calm fears about the recent homicides in the Windsor Forest neighborhood. He told the crowd no one should think anyone is out to get them.

"These murders were targeted. Victims were targeted. There were other reasons they were killed and that's something we are checking into. But it wasn't a random act," Chief Lovett said.

Lovett says both homicides were drug related and that there is a possibility the two murders are connected.

Some citizens expressed concern about the city's landlord policy. Robert Beauchamp lives a few houses away from the most recent murder. He claims everyone on the block knew the house associated with the homicide was trouble.

"If a property is allowed to go bad and if you can't control who is in that property then you are potentially going to have the same problem," Beauchamp said.

City Alderman Tony Thomas planned the meeting. He understands the landlord's concerns and says the city ordinance is weak.

"We have great landlords in this city. But there are a few that aren't doing it by the book, and those are the ones we have to go after because they are wrecking neighborhoods," Thomas said.

Despite the recent homicides, stats show cime is actually down in Windsor Forest.

"One crime in a neighborhood is one too many. But in terms of statistics, the Windsor Forest area is probably one of the safest areas of the city," Chief Lovett said.

A similar meeting is being planned for next week for all the citizens who weren't allowed inside because of fire code.

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