The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office is taking action against a second Tigerland apartment complex, arguing the property should be deemed a nuisance due to recent high volumes of violent crime, including when a woman was shot to death in front of her small children last month.

Then about 2 a.m. Thursday, Baton Rouge police received reports of a man brandishing a gun outside the complex. The suspect fled from officers and broke into one of the apartments, refusing to come out, according to police.

That prompted the SWAT team to respond to the scene and enter the apartment, which resulted in the man being taken into custody without further incident, police said. He was later arrested on unauthorized entry of an inhabited building. 

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said the overnight SWAT encounter was the latest of several recent incidents at 4445 Alvin Dark Ave. That's why his office intends to seek a court order to have the property shut down unless the owners take steps to curb crime in the meantime.

This marks the second time in recent months that Moore has threatened such action against Tigerland landlords. Both cases exemplify a larger problem facing the area, which was developed decades ago to provide LSU students with upscale housing options near campus, but has since deteriorated amid its abundance of cheap apartments and an uptick in crime. Both local law enforcement and LSU leaders have struggled with questions about Tigerland's future since students still flock to the cluster of bars at its entrance.

In a letter dated Oct. 2, Moore told Tiger Plaza representatives that the complex meets the definition of a nuisance under state law, which means a judge could ultimately order its closure. 

Baton Rouge police have responded to nearly 400 calls for service at that address over the past year, according to the letter — more than one each day. In the month of September alone, two shootings occurred on the premises, one of which was fatal. Other recent calls for service involve alleged drug activity and stolen vehicles. 

An attorney representing the property ownership and management, James Raines, said his clients are working with the District Attorney's Office and Baton Rouge police to curb crime. "Tiger Plaza takes the safety of its community very seriously. To date we have taken a number of measures aimed at promoting the safety and security of our residents," he said in a statement. 

The complex, which has been a Tigerland fixture for decades, sits not far from the bars off Nicholson Drive. The property website paints a rosy picture: "the best off-campus housing option" for LSU students. One-bedroom units range from about $700 to $750, and two-bedrooms from about $800 to $940.

"From the moment residents walk through the front door of their apartment home, they feel comfort and security," the website states. 

Moore said he's optimistic about finding a solution that doesn't involve taking the issue to court. That could include more cameras, better lighting, license plate readers and additional security personnel, Moore said. 

His decision to send the letter to Tiger Plaza representatives came several weeks after a judge issued a nuisance declaration for a different and much smaller Tigerland apartment complex that has been plagued with violence, including a double homicide last fall and the fatal police shooting of a domestic violence suspect over the summer. The owner of that complex has since taken steps to improve security on the property, changes that so far have satisfied prosecutors and the court.

Many buildings in the area have deteriorated over the past few decades as LSU students have passed them up in favor of newer complexes outside the neighborhood. Meanwhile, crime and violence have risen and landlords have become less discerning when deciding whom to accept as tenants, according to residents.

Concerns have grown loud enough that even the LSU student newspaper, The Reveille, called for all of Tigerland to be razed to the ground following the 2019 double homicide.


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.