JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It was August 2011 when Danielle Melton, 19, was shot and killed outside her Northwest Jacksonville home. She lived at the Prince Street Apartments with her infant twin sons.
She was sitting outside when she was caught in the crossfire of a gunfight happening on the street. It was a drug deal gone bad. The young mother was hit in the chest and died almost instantly.
Her family said it didn't have to happen, and local attorney Fred Tromberg took their case. "This is predictable, this is preventable, and its shameful that it happened here," he said.
Tromberg threatened to file a lawsuit against the owners of the apartment complex, on the basis they didn't do enough to protect its tenants. "It was done on the basis of a claim of inadequate security. We call it premises liability," said Tromberg.
The complex is located in a high crime area. They investigated and learned that in the 36 months before Melton was killed, there were 45 police reports filed regarding violent crime on the property. "And that included aggravated batteries, residential burglaries, robberies," said Tromberg.
Expand the scope 500 feet around the property and Tromberg said, "There were 104 reports of violent crimes. To me, that makes it predictable, and preventable."
Before a lawsuit was filed, Tromberg said the property owners settled. The murdered mom's family will get a million dollars. "Nothing of course can compensate for the loss of their mother. But this will make sure they are financially secure and they have a bit of a nest egg as they get older," said the attorney.
Action News's Leslie Coursey asked, "Does this settlement send a message to other complexes in high crime areas?" He replied, "You know, Leslie, I hope it does." He went on to say, "I think that people who are in property management, specifically property management where we know there's a lot of violent crime on the property, they have a duty to do something to curtail the crime, to prevent these types of incidents from occurring in the future."
Melton's sons are now being cared for by their grandmother. They'll get the money as a structured settlement throughout their lives.
Two other people were killed, and a 16-month-old baby was hit in the same shooting that killed Melton. The baby survived.
The suspected gunman, Theodist Tyrone Richardson, was arrested and is awaiting trial.