Columbia councilman: ‘I support 1,000 percent requesting’ SLED, FBI investigation on ‘negligence’ at Allen Benedict apartments

“Two people died and hundreds of lives were upended, apparently due to negligence," Baddourah’s letter said. "That’s something we must take seriously.”

Columbia councilman: ‘I support 1,000 percent requesting’ SLED, FBI investigation on ‘negligence’ at Allen Benedict apartments

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - City of Columbia Councilman Moe Baddourah issued a second letter regarding the issues at Allen Benedict Court apartments where two men were found dead and more than 400 residents were forced to evacuate due to hazardous conditions.

Baddourah's letter Wednesday was in regard to a possible criminal investigation into the Columbia Housing Authority and again calls for the executive director Gilbert Walker and others to resign following the deaths of 62-year-old Calvin Witherspoon, Jr., and 31-year-old Derrick Caldwell Roper. Their bodies were discovered on Jan. 17 and prompted the evacuation of all 26 buildings in Allen Benedict Court apartments.

The Richland County Coroner’s Office has confirmed that their deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Two people died and hundreds of lives were upended, apparently due to negligence," Baddourah’s letter said. "That’s something we must take seriously.”

In a letter dated Jan. 18 and addressed to the city council and Mayor Steve Benjamin, Baddourah asked for “a resignation or resignations are in order, including the resignation of the Authority director.”

“It’s important to have confidence in the Authority’s leadership during the process of finding accommodations for those who have been displaced. Furthermore, citizens should have the peace of mind that adequate accountability is in place to prevent a similar tragedy in the future,” the Jan. 18 letter concluded.

You can read his latest letter here:

“I support 1,000 percent requesting an investigation by SLED – or perhaps the FBI, since there are federal dollars involved. Two people died and hundreds of lives were upended, apparently due to negligence. That’s something we must take seriously. And again, I feel strongly that City Council should call on the Housing Authority director -- and possibly others -- to resign or be removed by the board of commissioners. It’s a necessary step to restore public trust, including the trust of current and future public housing residents. Finding permanent housing for these displaced residents is a tremendous challenge, and we must be able to have confidence that the process is in capable hands. And there must be accountability. What we can’t afford to do is sweep this under the rug.”
Columbia City Councilman Moe Baddourah, Jan. 30, 2019
Moe Baddourah calls for CHA Executive Director's resignation

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