Lawsuit Claims Rampant Violence, Crime at Savannah State

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The family of a Savannah State student, mourning the loss of their son. Now that family is looking for answers- and someone to pay for what they call negligence.

That’s why they, along with the victim of another SSU shooting, have filed a lawsuit, which names the school, but is targeted at the people they say are responsible.

“Our current lawsuit is a lawsuit against that foundation for basicallt failing to provide adequate security and adequate protection for students at SSU,” said Shean Williams of the Cochran Law Firm.

“We are not here just for the Starks family or the Woods family,” said Williams. “We are here for every student at Savannah State to ensure we put a stop to this.”

Put a stop to crime on the Savannah State campus.

At the news conference by attorneys, a stack of papers almost a foot high, all the violent crimes at the school since 2009.

“They have had notice and knowledge for years of crimes occurring on the campus and they failed to take adequate action to address those crimes,” said Sam Starks of the Cochran Law Firm.

Crimes like the murder of Christopher Starks inside the SSU student union in August of 2015.

Savannah State Shooting Victim Christopher Starks
Savannah State Shooting Victim Christopher Starks

His killer was caught on cameras, but has not been caught by investigators yet.

“Why,” said an emotional WIllie Ray Starks, Chris Starks Father. “Why is the loss of life it takes something like this to put meausres in place to make sure any parents shouldn’t have to go through this to get your child an education. Its been devastating to our family and our community.Just want questions answered.”

The shooting of Chris Woods, who was shot six times in the parking lot of the University Village Apartments.

Chris Woods was shot six time at the University Village apartments at Savannah State
Chris Woods was shot six time at the University Village apartments at Savannah State

His lawyers say Woods was trying to stop a sexual assault from happening.

Both the apartments and student union run and owned by foundations, not the school itself.

“They have knowledge that this is going on and they contract private companies and entities in a great venture to profit from these kids,” said Williams. “At a minimum you would think they would take that profit and protect those children. We don’t have that here.”

Companies that were supposed to offer security..

“Did they offer security?”
“From our investigation no,” said Williams. “And if they did then this family wouldn’t have had to sit here mourning the loss of their son.”

And have surveillance cameras always monitored.

Something that lawyers say was not happening.

“When you send your child to school and you read online great video system 24/7 its giving you an unrealistic exectation of your child’s safety when its a really unreal expectation in this case,” said Abda Quillian of the Tate Law Firm.

“You would hope that these surveillance cameras that were put in place were used for the expressed reason all security cameras were, to fight crime,’ explained Williams. “Our research shows thats not the case at Savannah State university.”

“Why not do it here?” asked Quillian. “Why do it somewhere else, why give people the false impression you are doing it when you are not.”

Lawyers for Woods and the Starks family talk about lawsuit filed in Forsyth County court
Lawyers for Woods and the Starks family talk about lawsuit filed in Forsyth County court

Lawyers claims the shooters in both cases are not students, but were both caught on camera, on campus before and after their crimes.

“this is supposed to be a place of higher learning this is a place of higher crime instead,” said Williams.

“To know that crime and crime was happening and you refused to do something. Its tragic,” said Willie Ray Starks.

The two entities named in the suit are Savannah State Foundation Real Estate Ventures, which runs the apartment complex, and USG Real Estate Foundation III. LLC which runs the Student Union.

Savannah State is not a defendant in this case, but attorneys say that doesn’t mean they are off the hook.

“The fact that they are not currently party to the lawsuit certainly doesnt mean they won’t have to answer for what is rampant crime on that campus which is not being addressed,” said Sam Starks.

The lawsuit asks for an undisclosed amount of damages.

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