Students at The Commons Feel Unsafe

By: David Coy Email
By: David Coy Email

HARRISONBURG -- People living in the Commons are not feeling secure in their own homes during the night and on the weekends after months of crime. American Campus Communities, which owns the complex, said changes are in the works.

The Commons is where 19-year-old Ben Graessle was killed in December 2012. The student housing community is located near Port Republic Road. There is security there, but some students believe they still don't feel safe.

Zachary Carver has lived in the Commons for the past year. He said it wasn't bad until the complex started having incidents.

"My parents wanted me to move after my first semester, after the shootings happened, but I decided to stick it out for one more semester," said Carver.

Carver said there have been muggings and stabbings in the area.

"There is definitely a feeling of insecurity around here," said Carver.

American Campus Communities plans on putting up a gate around the community.

"A gated community makes a big difference for security purposes," said Daniel Vargas, a resident at the complex.

Vargas thinks the current security measures including the guards in the complex are working.

"Every time I pull in, down the hill or coming up so. He is there, which is good to see that," said Vargas.

William Knott has lived in the Commons for three years. He feels somewhat safe.

"I never walk by myself really, I never cut through Hunter's Ridge. You know, I try to play it smart I guess," said Knott.

Knott said he doesn't think the plan to make the complex a gated community will help with security.

"They will just walk around it. They will find ways if they want to get in there they are going to get in. A fence is not going to do anything," said Knott.

Carver agrees.

"The gated community part be helpful either. I mean, people are going to get in one way or another."

Harrisonburg Police Department, Rockingham County Sheriff's Office and James Madison University Police plan to increase security at all the off-campus communities. The gate for the Commons is expected to be up fall 2013.

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