Iris Street residents concerned about activity at apartment complex

Neighbors voicing concerns about Iris Street apartments

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - There are still a lot of unanswered questions two days after the murder at an apartment complex on Iris Street.

Cody Lucero, 18, is accused of murdering 18-year-old Edward Wilkes. Both were residents of the apartment complex at 710 Iris Street.

Lake Charles Police received a call shortly after midnight Sunday in reference to a disturbance. Once on the scene, they discovered Wilkes bleeding. He was taken to a local hospital where he later died from his injuries. Lucero was later found and arrested at a residence in Kinder.

According to neighbors, the apartment complex has been a problem area for a while.

"Those of us who live in that neighborhood have been putting up with a lot of stuff from the effects of that property for years now. We have been dealing with a lot of high volume traffic, speeding and getting broken into," said Charles Smith.

Smith took his concerns to the Lake Charles City Council on Tuesday night after he heard City Police responded to 77 9-1-1 calls in the last two years. Neighbors want to know how it got so out of hand.

"Unfortunately, a young man died ... And we have a lot of questions and we are just not getting any answers. There seems to be a veil of secrecy going on around this and it's very upsetting as a resident and as a homeowner," said Sarah Wilson, Iris Street resident.

The complex houses a number of at-risk residents, which homeowners said brings with it negative activity into their neighborhood.

"Obviously, they are victimizing each other. What's to say that is not going to bleed out to us into any other forms of violence, theft and drug activity," said Gilbert Andal.

The owner of the complex, Scott Stratton, believes the murder was an isolated incident. He said he currently works with two government programs to house homeless people and at-risk youth. According to Stratton, there are four counselors on staff during the day and one counselor at the property at night. He would not discuss what the counselor on duty the night of the murder may or may not have witnessed.

Stratton admits there have been problems in the past, but claims he's addressed the issue by eliminating the trouble residents. He said records will show since the beginning of this year, there have only been 10 9-1-1 calls.

Meanwhile, it's the latest call and crime that have residents speaking out.

"I'm not asking for someone to come in and throw everybody out but there has got to be some responsibility. There has to be a reasonable amount of unattended minors or transitioning people. We are eaten up apparently," said Wilson.

"What I don't want is for the Lake Charles Police to become his private security officers for all the activity there when he should be taking care of that himself," said Smith. "We just want this cleaned up so we can make our neighborhood in the Garden District a safe place to live."

City officials said they will look into the matter to see if there are any violations. Meanwhile, the Lake Charles Police said they aren't releasing anymore details in the murder, including the manner in which the victim died. Suspect Ray Lucero remains jailed on $1 million bond.

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.