MEMPHIS, Tenn.– A $5 million lawsuit has been filed against Shelby County Schools and the city of Memphis on behalf of a property owner who alleges they have not done enough to address students loitering and violence spilling over from a nearby high school.
Tenants at Balmoral Shopping Center near Ridgeway High School are still reeling after three people were shot, including a juvenile, Wednesday evening.
“I had a feeling months ago that this was going to happen,” one tenant said Friday. “It wasn’t a matter of if, it was when. It was like a time bomb and this week it went off.”
Even before this shooting, the property owner filed a lawsuit against Shelby County Schools and the city of Memphis, after years of trying to come up with a solution for the large crowds of students gathering on the property causing disruptions.
In the lawsuit, they claim there have been numerous fights and drug dealing on the property. Along with constant loitering, as a result, they contracted security but it did not make a difference.
“We filed a lawsuit on behalf of our clients to say, you know we have a problem. Let’s deal with it now. Let’s sit down and talk. Let’s apply some good common sense to what needs to be done,” said Richard Glassman, an attorney representing the center.
“Do we want business from these young adults? Sure we do. But they can come on the property to do business but don’t come on the property to have a stage set up fight, which we’ve had several times.”
The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office recommended they put up no trespassing and loitering signs, which they did. A Sky Cop has also been placed on the parking lot, but tenants say it has not led to any changes beyond them working in fear.
“It’s hard to work at a job in any of these locations and not feel afraid, just really afraid and it shouldn’t be like that,” said one of the tenants.
Both Shelby County Schools and City of Memphis declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
Glassman said they are still in the early phases of the lawsuit so no date has been set for when this could be possibly heard by a judge.