Two boys were wounded in random shootings in less than two years at Millville’s Oakview Apartments, whose manager says added police patrols are helping to reduce criminal activity.

THOMAS BARLAS / Staff Writer

MILLVILLE — For the second time in two years, random gunfire wounded a boy at Oakview Apartments.

Both victims were hit in the legs. The latest was a 12-year-old, shot while sitting outside of an apartment Sunday night. The other, a 13-year-old, was shot while taking out the trash in June 2015.

The apartment complex in the 1700 block of East Broad Street is no stranger to criminal acts, prompting management and local authorities to renew a special patrol agreement earlier this year. City police, when possible, patrol the complex on overtime paid by the apartment complex.

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But some apartment complex residents said Tuesday that assaults, vandalism and other illegal activity still occur there.

Thomas Blake, 50, said he has been beaten and, on one occasion, threatened with “being shot or being cut” by intruders in his apartment. Most of the problems are caused by people who don’t live in the apartment complex, he said.

Now, after living at Oakview for seven years, Blake said he’s moving out.

“I’m looking for someplace safe,” he said. Of the boy who was shot Sunday, he said, “I feel sorry for him.”

Two women who live at the apartment complex also complained about vandalism and other acts, and did so with what appeared to be a hint of fear. The women, who would not give their names, spoke from behind the doors of their apartments. They looked nervously past a reporter to a group of young men, wearing hoods and with faces covered, standing in a parking lot. The men watched the women as they spoke.

Jinell Kalocia, Oakview’s manager, feels differently, saying the police patrols “are working.”

“It’s actually been very helpful to see a reduction in criminal activity,” Kalocia said. “Sometimes you can’t prevent people from coming on the property. We try our best.”

The complex, she said, may just be a victim of the city in which it’s located.

“It’s Millville,” Kalocia said. “Millville is attracting a lot of crime. It’s trying to get better.”

Police Chief Jody Farabella could not be reached for comment.

As for Sunday’s incident, city police said the 12-year-old was hit in the calf by one of as many as seven shots fired from a vehicle that was driving through the complex at 7:39 p.m. The youth, who appeared not to be a target of the shooters, was taken to Inspira Medical Center Vineland, they said. They last reported the youth’s condition as stable.

“We are working very hard to ascertain the perpetrator of this offense, and we appeal to the public to come forward,” Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said.

In June 2015, a 13-year-old boy was shot in the calf while taking out the trash at 9:48 p.m. The boy’s mother noticed the wound about an hour later, and the youth wound up in Cooper University Hospital in Camden.

There were other incidents at Oakview.

Gunshots were reported at the complex in April.

In March, three men were wounded, including a 30-year-old man who suffered a gunshot wound to the head, following an incident that involved a group of people in the complex’s 800 block. One witness reported hearing at least 10 gunshots, police said.

And in November 2014, authorities said Neri Sanchez fatally shot 27-year-old Jerome Chestnut in the back of the head. Sanchez lived at the complex, while Chestnut’s last known address was at the Mill Village apartment complex, which is on Wade Boulevard near Oakview.

Shootings have plagued the city this year. The problem became so bad that in September, the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office asked for the public’s help in solving 15 shootings that occurred over a six-month period.

Webb-McRae said she didn’t have a report on the status of those investigations, but she is still asking for the public’s cooperation in solving those shootings and other criminal acts there. Part of that cooperation involves building increased trust between the public and law enforcement, she said.

“I would say any resources that can be put into building relationships … benefits the community,” she said. “We want to make people feel more comfortable coming forward.”

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Contact: 609-226-9197 Email: TBarlas@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressBarlas

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