'Too little too late' say neighbors where sexual assault happened

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Prompted by the rape of a one of their tenants, management at Haven Apartments on Quantico Avenue held a community meeting Thursday evening for residents to address safety issues.

Representatives from Bakersfield police and the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault gave residents safety tips.

"We are the most impacted by all of this because the police can only do so much," said Cesar Alvarado, who has lived eight years at the apartment complex.

Other residents felt management was only prompted into addressing safety concerns after the sexual assault that happened during the very early morning hours Monday. A woman and a juvenile were both bound, and the woman was then sexually assaulted in her apartment.

"I don't feel safe now, because of what happened, you know, I feel scared now," said resident Maria Sanchez, who has lived at the complex for two years. Sanchez said management can do more to improve security.

Several residents told Eyewitness News security cameras are needed on site. One main concern is that the complex is not gated, and residents say they have asked management numerous times to make it a gated complex to have more control of who comes in and out.

A chain link fence at the rear of the complex is incomplete, and there is a gaping hole where anyone can easily walk or drive a car through. The rear of the complex faces an empty garbage-filled lot.

"They come in here and they park," said Joe Torrez, who has grandchildren living at Haven Apartments. Torrez said he's seen individuals drinking and getting drunk and consuming drugs.

"You could smell the weed," said Torrez.

Haven Apartments is owned and run by Mercy Housing, a nonprofit organization that provides housing for low-income residents.

The community meeting was closed to the media. When asked if Mercy Housing would make Haven Apartments a gated community, representative Cindy Wise declined to speak on camera. Wise said the company is "in the process of addressing that" concern.

The sexual assault at the Haven Apartments is the third in just a little more than a month to happen in east and northeast Bakersfield. A total of four victims have been raped. Police believe the same suspect could be involved in each instance.