MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Memphis police arrested nine people who were allegedly squatting in a vacant apartment building in the Medical District.
Police say that on Thursday, they found nine people occupying four apartments that were supposed to be vacant at the Vista Orleans Apartments on Court Avenue near Cleveland.
The damage is still visible at that apartment complex after police had to force their way into several of the units.
“They really ain’t squatters, you know. They’re trying to find a place to live,” said Antonio Maxwell, who told WREG he was briefly detained Thursday while walking through the complex.
A maintenance man told police that the locks at all four apartments had been changed.
Inside, officers found people, beds and food. There were even working appliances.
On Friday, WREG found a man inside one of the apartments, but he refused to answer any questions.
“It’s cold and Christmas time and they ain’t hurting nobody,” said resident Yolanda Rhoades.
Rhoades said she’s only been living at the Vista Orleans Apartments for a couple of months, but has gotten to know some of the alleged squatters well.
“They kicked in some doors and took a couple of people that I knew to jail and stuff for no reason, you know what I’m saying. It’s cold. It’s too cold to be out here,” Rhoades said.
But in Kianna Mason’s case, police say they found more than a woman just trying to keep warm. In her apartment, they say they found a loaded handgun in a shoebox. Mason is a convicted felon.
All nine alleged squatters have been charged with burglary, while Mason is also facing a weapon charge.
“They’re good people. They should not put no burglary charge on them. It should have been, like, a criminal trespass. They should have gave them a slap on the wrist and let them go,” said Maxwell.