Victims plead for change, more security in low-income housing

Mass shooting victims, families of those lost to violence suing Eureka Gardens

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Four civil lawsuits have been filed against the former owner of Eureka Gardens by people who have been affected by violence at the Westside apartment complex.

The suits claim Global Ministries Foundation did not provide reasonable security at the complex.

Two of the lawsuits were filed by a couple who were injured in the August mass shooting that left seven people hurt. The two others were filed by family members of men who were shot and killed at the complex in 2014.

They all said Tuesday that they're relieved to know that Global Ministries Foundation is no longer the owner of Eureka Gardens, and they hope when the complex is eventually taken over by new ownership that major changes will be made so no other families have to deal with such pain and heartache.

“I'm good. I'm still alive, but my livelihood got taken. I can't work, can't hardly talk. I can't really talk to my doctors because they don't understand me too much, but she helps me with everything,” King Evans said. “I'm stuck at a standstill for a long time, because of this something we had nothing to do with.”

Evans didn't want to show his face, understandably scared because the people who shot him in the neck and arm while he was at Eureka Gardens on Aug. 8 are still out there. Six others were also shot, including Evans' fiancée, Jaqueline Porter.

“Seeing all your friends and loved ones there with blood everywhere, injured, it was a lot,” Porter said. “Looking at my fiancé (possibly) take his last breath. I thought I was going to lose him that night, I honestly did.”

Porter, who was shot in the back and leg, said she is thankful she and Evans are alive, but they'll never be the same physically or mentally.

The couple said they were visiting friends when the hail of more than 50 bullets erupted at the complex, and now they each have filed a lawsuit against GMF, claiming there wasn't reasonable security in an area known for violence.

“It was very painful to watch,” Porter said. “More like a movie. People being shot. It seemed so unreal, and to this day I still have a hard time sleeping at night because when I close my eyes I can still see it happening all over again like it's just yesterday.”

Another lawsuit was filed by Regina Robinson, whose 15-year-old son, Demantrae Franklin, was killed outside of the complex in 2014.

“He was only 15, a baby visiting his friends, so I just want justice (and for) whoever knows anything to come forward,” Robinson said. “They really need security. This has been going on for years. Me being a resident of Jacksonville, this is not the first -- and I don't think it will be the last if they don't do anything about it.”

Robin Staley and Keandra Chavous filed the fourth lawsuit. Staley's son, 22-year-old Christopher Cornelio, who was dating Chavous, was also shot and killed in 2014.

“If we could have some kind of peace of mind so the other families aren't at risk,” Staley said. “(We ask) that they do something so other families can sleep safely and not have to think about having that phone call in the middle of the night hearing your son's been shot.”

Chavous has a 6-year-old son who is now living without his father. She had a message for The Millennia Co., which could be taking ownership of Eureka Gardens in the near future.

“Try to be more concerned about other people's families, things they have to go through,” Chavous said. “I feel not only was his life lost, but the guy who did it was so young. He's going to be gone as well.”

Evans and Porter said it’s hard to sleep at night knowing the people who almost killed them are still out there. They ask for anyone with information to contact police.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office released surveillance video that shows three men they believe were responsible. 

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