City leaders pushing to have Peppertree Apartments declared public nuisance

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Earlier this year, 19-year-old Deshannon Smith was shot multiple times and left to die at Peppertree Apartments in Whitehaven.

His devastated family has waited months for word that his killer had been arrested.

"We were talking about our family and stuff," said Shomekia Carter, when asked about her boyfriend, Deshannon.  "We talked about what we were going to do, get a house and all that. I found out through Facebook that he was dead.  They said he was in a field at Peppertree."

She starts sobbing when she thinks about a future without Deshannon in it.  The pair had just celebrated the birth of their daughter, Dejournee, when Deshannon was robbed and murdered on Jan. 27.  Several months later, Shomekia and her mother--Natamular Carter--are waiting for the gunman to be brought to justice.

"My grandbaby will never be able to know her father," said Natamular, "because some idiot decided to pick up a gun and kill him."

Natamular also wants Peppertree Apartments shut down.

"I just feel like it's a nuisance," she said, "I mean, drugs, gangs, and murders, everything that is disgusting in this world goes on in that apartment complex."

The Shelby County District Attorney went to Environmental Court in 2006 to have Peppertree declared a nuisance.  Instead of closing it, a deal was worked out with owner TESCO to improve security.

But in the 12 years since, the problems continued.

Memphis City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove was so fed up with Peppertree, she asked that it be demolished in 2016.  That same year, U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen asked HUD to investigate complaints about Peppertree.

"I know if we continue," said Natamular Carter, "that God will show us a way to get this place shut down because it needs to be."

What Shomekia Carter needs is the strength to raise Dejournee on her own now and Deshannon's killer behind bars.

"Everybody here needs closure," she said.

WMC Action News 5 reached out to the owner listed for Peppertree on the Shelby County Assessor's website: Pepper Tree Memphis-LTD, with an address in Horsham, Pennsylvania. We'll let you know if the company responds to our questions about security at the property.

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