TAMPA — Neenee Jacobs has lived for five years in the North Boulevard Homes, the sprawling, Depression-era public housing project across from Blake High School.
Crime seems to rise each year, she said, and she worries about the safety of her 3-year-old child.
“We’re getting scared living in our homes,” said Jacobs, 24. “It’s getting dangerous. It’s too many deaths.”
Monday morning, 4-year-old Renaldo Moore was struck in his upper left arm by a stray bullet fired 250 yards away from where he was walking with his mother, Tampa police said. The boy is listed in stable condition at a local hospital.
Tampa police investigators identified the shooter as Bakari Deonte Parks. They issued a warrant for his arrest on a charge of attempted murder.
Parks and another man got into a fight at around 11 a.m. Monday in the area of Spruce Street and North Oregon Avenue at the North Boulevard Homes, police said, and Parks fired a gun. The stray bullet struck Renaldo near West Spruce Street and North Oregon Avenue.
“Why do they want us in this environment with our kids and it’s not safe for us to walk around here without kids?” Jacobs asked.
Nikki Brown visits her family often at the North Boulevard Homes. The problems there stem from drugs and neighborhood “beefs,” she said. She added that people who were making money from income tax fraud are using other techniques, such as robbery, to support the lifestyle they once enjoyed.
“It’s mostly coming from hood to hood beef,” Brown said.
She said she heard Parks and the person he was with had been rolling dice and were fighting over money.
Six months ago, a pregnant Brianna Anderson was fatally shot in her apartment at the North Boulevard Homes. Anderson was nearly nine months pregnant but doctors delivered a healthy baby by cesarean section.
Jamar Anjuan Silas, 23, of Seffner, was arrested and charged with murder in the second degree, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office jail records. He is being held in a Hillsborough County jail with bail set at more than $500,000.
Plans are to demolish the North Boulevard Homes as part of a 150-acre redevelopment project unveiled in January and dubbed “West River.” Residents will move to other public housing or get vouchers for private housing. They would have the option to move back to the redeveloped neighborhood.
Ivan Weller, 31, lives in the North Boulevard Homes and says gunfire there is common. It’s unusual for a child to be a victim, though.
The shooting drew news crews and Police Chief Jane Castor to the neighborhood. Weller credited the fact a child was involved with how aggressively the police responded.
“If it hadn’t been a child, I don’t think the police would have,” he said.
Andrea Davis, a police spokeswoman, said the police always react with the same staff to a shooting.
“When you have an innocent bystander, the feeling for the media is much different,” Davis said. “The feeling for the community is much different. The police response is the same regardless.”