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Residents In D.C. Apartment Complex Say Security Gate Threatens Their Lives

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Residents at Wheeler Complex in Southeast D.C. say the security gate surrounding their building puts their lives in danger.
Armando Trull
Residents at Wheeler Complex in Southeast D.C. say the security gate surrounding their building puts their lives in danger.

Some residents of an apartment complex in southeast D.C. say a security fence meant to protect them is instead putting their lives at risk.

Robyn Kenney says she was rudely awakened around 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning; her next-door neighbor was pounding on her door.

"I opened the door," says Kenney. "He went to fall inside my house. He was gushing out with blood all over the place."

Kenney called 911, but says a security fence around the Wheeler Terrace apartments became a deadly barrier to paramedics when they responded.

"By the time they got upstairs to him, he was dead," she says.

The fence surrounding the seven buildings in the 3900 block of 13th Street SE has only one gate where residents can enter. They do so by swiping an electronic card.

It's a system Beverly Darden says has kept first responders out in the past.

"We had an incident in 3901 where the residents could not get out of the building, could not get out the gate," says Darden. "The police or the fire department could not get in. They had to climb the gate; they had to wait for 15 minutes for security to let them in. What if that building was on fire, then sir what would have happened?"

Sometimes the residents can’t even get inside their own homes to seek safety.

"A man came up, stuck a gun through the gate, fired some rounds and we could not run and get in the gate we had to stay outside with the shooter"

Fed up, residents are circulating a petition asking for better and easier access to all the gates around the property, which houses nearly 500 people – mostly women and children.

Darden says they've also contacted the District's Office of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

"This is not right," she says. "This is not right, we are not animals, we don’t have to live like this."

The Edgewood Management Company is in charge of the Wheeler Terrace complex. None of the company's representatives made themselves available to answer questions.

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