LAWRENCE – On a warm, sunny afternoon, you’ll see plenty of kids playing around the Maison Garden Apartments near 42nd Street and Post Road.
But several parents told Fox 59 they’re just not comfortable letting their kids play outside around the complex.
“Oh, you have to be real careful,” said a father of three who only wanted to be called Levi. “Get them involved in school activities and summer things like reading and all that other stuff. Just to stay out of here because the environment’s not safe no more.”
Levi has fresh concerns about the safety of his children after an armed robber threatened to kill several children in an apartment unit upstairs from his.
According to witnesses and Lawrence Police, several men had spent Sunday night hanging out and smoking a cigar packed with marijuana. As the party was ending, a man known only as “Bashay” whipped out a handgun and demanded money and more drugs.
When the homeowner tried to go back to his kids’ bedroom, Bashay followed him.
Moments later, Bashay pointed the gun at the homeowner’s 7-year-old daughter, threatening to kill her and other children in the apartment.
“Most criminals, at that time, they don’t even care about innocent victims such as children,” said Lawrence Police Captain Curtis Bigsbee.
The suspect eventually got away with about $100. No shots were fired, but he also threatened to come back and kill the children within 24 hours if the homeowner didn’t provide him with marijuana.
The homeowner, who Fox 59 is not naming, does have a prior history of drug and burglary arrests. He told the robber that he didn’t “do that stuff” anymore now that he has his children living with him.
He told police he thought “Bashay” was a friend.
He was later told that someone else in the neighborhood had indicated that he was being set up for robbery because he’s a white man living in a predominantly black and Hispanic area.
Police could not substantiate that claim, but they do recognize the need for crime-fighting efforts in the apartment complex.
“It’s something our department is aware of, and we’re working with the apartment complex as well as neighborhoods during crime watch roundtables with the apartment complexes,” Bigsbee said.
Managers of the complex have taken steps to prevent criminal activity. The entrance is locked behind a security gate that requires a security card to open. A tall, iron fence surrounds the entire property.
Still, the father targeted early Monday morning was taking no chances. He told police he and his children would be spending the night elsewhere.
The suspect known as “Bashay” is described as a tall, thin black man in his 20s. He’s balding, has a beard, and also sports several tattoos with pictures of guns.
Anyone with information should contact the Lawrence Police Department.