Veterans: Murder isn't only concern at housing complex

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By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
December 5, 2017

Thomas Bullock

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Police say 63-year-old Thomas Bullock stabbed Joseph Burrelli to death Saturday afternoon inside an apartment at Home Front, a housing complex for homeless veterans on Stuckey Avenue.

Some veterans at the complex say violence is not the only problem at Home Front.

"This is where most all your drug activity takes place," said Gary Dennis, a tenant at Home Front.

Dennis says people who don't live in the veterans housing complex have the code to get in, and they sell and do drugs and promote prostitution.

"We've screamed for help. I've been there going on four years. I've been screaming for help from day one about what's going on," Dennis said.

The executive director of Big Bend Homeless Coalition, Sylvia Smith, says it's almost impossible to control who goes in and out of the complex because tenants are allowed to have guests.

"They could open the gate and simply give someone access if they chose to let some person on the property. It's frustrating, we know," Smith said.

Smith says the coalition sent a letter notifying tenants that a private security team was hired effective October 14.

"That company can enforce the lease and interact with other tenants about behavior that might not be behavior that the neighbor wants to call 911 about. So, that's an improvement," said Smith.

Paul Weatherford, a Home Front tenant, said, "By the time they get here, these people, they never stay long, especially the drug dealers. It's like a cat and mouse game."

Dennis pointed out other issues at the complex. "Back here in this corner, the roof is all rotted up underneath the shingles." Pointing at wooden stair rails, he said, "They're loaded with ants. They lift up because there's a gap, they're all dry. They rotted so bad."

He adds, "These are support beams for the deck up here. They're rotting."

Smith says they do have maintenance vendors for the complex. She says there is pest control on a monthly basis.

As for the security team, Smith says tenants can call them 24 hours a day, and security personnel will be there within minutes.

Priority Security Services 24/7 dispatch service line is (850) 558-5616. Call 911 for all life threatening emergencies.

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
December 4, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Tallahassee Police have released the identity of the man found dead Saturday evening. Police say Joseph Burrelli was stabbed multiple times.

A suspect is now in custody. Thomas Bullock, 63, is charged with premeditated homicide.

The murder happened at Home Front Apartments at 1602 Stuckey Avenue. Residents say both men lived in Home Front, which is an apartment complex for homeless veterans.

Nat Wiley says both Bullock and Burrelli were his friends.

"One died, and the other got carried away in handcuffs," he said.

Some who live at Home Front say they heard someone screaming, "He just killed someone."

Wiley says he heard commotion on the second floor.

He says he saw Bullock standing near a chair at the end of the hall. Wiley says Bullock had blood running down his arms, and that he told him not to walk that way or he'd kill him too.

Wiley walked by Apartment 1207.

"I kind of peeked into the apartment. I could see a person lying on the floor. I've been around for a minute, but seeing things like that, it has an effect," Wiley said.

The arrest report says Bullock and Burrelli had been in another man's apartment watching the Georgia-Auburn football game and drinking vodka. It also says the man kicked them out because Bullock was drunk and they were loud.

Burrelli was found stabbed to death shortly after the men left the apartment. TPD says kitchen knives were on the floor near the body.

Gary Dennis says he's lived at Home Front for about four years. He said, "It's an OK Coral. We got people fighting, guns in there, people trying to kick in doors, people banging on your door at 3:00 in the morning."

"Some of us are trying to solve the problem," Tommy Stigar explained.

Stigar says he and some of the veterans are working on starting a neighborhood watch program and a neighborhood association at Home Front.

"It keeps all the drug traffic down. It also gets the tenants more alerted to what's going on surrounding them and also makes them more comfortable living at Home Front," Stigar said.

Dennis says living there can be unsettling. "Scary ain't the word for it. You sleep with one eye open and eye closed. It's worse than being in combat."

One veteran described how he'd said recently that someone was going to get hurt there. He fears this murder is only a prelude to worse things to come, as some say Home Front is a hot bed for illegal activity.

The following statement was released by the Big Bend Homeless Coalition:

Death of tenant of the Home Front Veterans Community

• Although we cannot comment on the specifics of this case, we are saddened and shocked by this tragic situation, and our deepest sympathies go out to all those affected.

• As an organization committed to ending homelessness in the Big Bend, we are passionate about the great work happening at Home Front with and for these Veterans, each of whom has honorably served our country.

• The Home Front is a supportive housing program for former chronically homeless Veterans. Each Veteran at the Home Front has experienced extensive homelessness and disability before exiting homelessness.

• Our role is to serve as landlord and property manager for this housing
solution – working hand-in-hand with the Tallahassee Housing Authority and the VA. The VA provides case management and supportive services for these individuals as they work to turn their lives around and improve their health and well-being after exiting homelessness.

• Security is of the utmost importance to our organization, and as an additional safeguard for our tenants, we have provided professional security services at the Home Front for many years. These services include both a 24/7 365 oncall service for tenants and frequent on-site roving patrols every evening.

• We are cooperating with local officials and law enforcement as well as the VA during this ongoing investigation and in support of our tenants.

• We are reminding tenants about how to access the assistance of security services during this stressful time, particularly the on-call service which allows them to request assistance at any time of day or night.

• We appreciate the community’s ongoing support as we work to offer safe, affordable apartments to formerly homeless Veterans who have honorably served our country.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
December 4, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A Tallahassee man has been arrested for murder after another man was found dead Saturday evening at 1602 Stuckey Avenue.

Thomas Bullock, 63, was arrested Sunday on premeditated murder charges.

Police have identified the victim as Joseph Burrelli.

We're told that the incident happened at The Home Front Apartments, a housing complex for homeless veterans.

A resident at the complex tells us that two veterans were arguing when one of them left and got a knife, then came back and attacked the victim.

According to arrest documents, Bullock stabbed Burrelli multiple times inside of an apartment.

Police say Bullock resisted arrest and had to be tasered while being taken into custody. He is being held without bond in the Leon County Detention Facility.

TPD investigators are continuing with their investigation and are asking anyone with information about the case to contact them at (850) 891-4200. They may also choose to remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at (850) 574-TIPS.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
December 2, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Tallahassee Police Department is investigating a "suspicious death" on Stuckey Avenue.

Officers say the incident happened around 5:15 p.m. Saturday at 1602 Stuckey Avenue. The Home Front Apartments, a housing complex for homeless veterans, is listed at the address.

Emergency personnel provided medical attention to the victim, but the person was unable to be revived and passed away from their injuries.

No further details have been released at this time.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about this case to please call them at (850) 891-4200 or Crime Stoppers at (850) 574-TIPS.

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