CARRBORO – Carrboro police are considering the drastic option of going to court to seize property on Wesley Street, in an effort to remove what they call a dangerous public nuisance.
“Getting rid of that problem is our number one concern, because there is a clear threat to public safety, says, Captain Chris Atack of the Carrboro Police Department, referring to the house owned by brothers Roy, James and Eddie Atwater, at 105 Wesley Street in Carrboro.
Recently, there’s been talk of authorities invoking the state’s nuisance abatement statute against the Atwaters. The statute allows a local government to seize a property deemed a public nuisance, if a judge rules in the government’s favor.
Since 2007, Carrboro police have been called out to 105 Wesley Street more than 50 times. Nearly half of the calls occurred just last year.
“We’ve had fights,” says Atack. “We’ve had displays of firearms – pointing of firearms. We’ve had multiple charges on occupants of the residence for delivery of narcotics.”
Those narcotics are cocaine, according to Atack. To make matters worse, the home is across the street from a daycare center, The Community School for People Under Six. And it’s less than a mile away from Carrboro Elementary School.
“There’s a specific charge for selling within a thousand feet of a school,” says Atack.
The troubling alleged activities at the house peaked, but did not stop, with the shooting death of 27-year-old David Lee Goodman of Durham in the early hours of December 20, 2013. Goodman allegedly broke into the home, resulting in his death, and the wounding of another person on the scene.
Atack says the unidentified second victim suffered a non-life-threatening wound, and no charges have been filed in that incident so far.
There have been more calls and arrests on unrelated charges since then, according to Atack.
“There are pending charges against two of the residents there,” says Atack, who identifies them as “Mr. Roy Atwater, and his brother James Atwater.”
Captain Atack clarified that there are no definite plans to seize the home at 105 Wesley Street. It’s just one option being discussed, after it’s become apparent that multiple arrests and charges aren’t fixing the problem.
To even mention the possibility of invoking the rarely used statute, he says, should give citizens some idea of how serious this problem is.
“I’ve been here 15 years,” he says. “I’m not aware that we have ever even begun a conversation about this.”
Meanwhile, police haven’t given up on arresting and charging the Atwaters.
Chapel Hills News reported that on February 10, 63-year-old James Henry Atwater is scheduled for a court hearing on multiple assault and drug-related charges.
Four days later, he’ll be back for a hearing on weapons charges. He’s being held at Orange County Jail in lieu of $600,000 bail.
His 60-year-old brother Eddie Green Atwater is due in court March 4 on weapon and assault charges.