Council to discuss Sandy Ridge

The Nolan Park complex surrounds Sandy Ridge Apartments on three sides.
The Nolan Park complex surrounds Sandy Ridge Apartments on three sides.

Whiteville city council will discuss the troubled Sandy Ridge apartment complex Tuesday.
An amendment to the regular agenda was emailed Friday (today). The agenda item gives no details other than to request a discussion of apartment complex and nearby Nolan Park.

A double-shooting at the complex May 13 injured a pregnant woman and a man, and sent parents and children running for cover at nearby Nolan Park. Youth softball and the Dixie Youth baseball showcase were taking place at the time of the gunfight. At least two gunmen reportedly opened fire, then became engaged in a shootout with residents of the complex. One of the wounded, Robert Avant, was reportedly firing on someone in an apartment at the complex when he was wounded. 

Avant and Dashad Maultsby of Lumberton  allegedly went to the complex and got into an argument with residents there, and the fight escalated into gunfire. Handguns and rifles were used in the fight, according to investigators. Maultsby is currently being held under $2.5 million bond on a variety of charges.

The incident was the 29th time since January 2018 that police have been called to Sandy Ridge to investigate gunfire or assault with a firearm. Three murders have occurred at the complex in that period of time, and a Clarkton man found dead near the recreation center was allegedly shot after a fight at the complex.
On several occasions, police have been pelted with rocks and vegetables while responding to calls at the complex. Sheriff’s deputies were called to provide security and crowd control at Sandy Ridge earlier this week when a large crowd gathered around WPD officers who pursued two off-road vehicles into the complex.

The complex has had a series of management companies. It is owned by Midland States Bank of Weldon Springs, Mo., according to tax records. 

Stephen Beck and Shane Hardee of the Columbus Dixie Youth and Columbus Softball leagues appeared before county commissioners Monday to discuss the incident. Beck said the children on his team took cover in the concrete dugout, then fled for a nearby treeline as the volume of gunfire rose and came closer to the ballpark.

In an emotional message to the commissioners, Beck said that he would never again take his team to the park.

Parks Director Blake Spivey, Events Coordinator Charlotte Almada and City Manager Darren Currie (who coaches a team) quickly moved children to dugouts and shelter while the gunfight was going on.

At the same time Hardee was asking commissioners to look into creating a large-scale county athletic  facility as a safer alternative to Nolan, City Council members attended a youth practice at the park to show support for the teams. Hardee and Beck said some coaches, parents and children have refused to return to the Nolan complex, which was previously shut down due to violence at Sandy Ridge.

 The city recently completed a multi-million dollar expansion and improvement on Nolan, funded in part through a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant.

Tuesday’s council meeting can be attended online via the city’s website. A limited number of seats are available in city hall, due to pandemic social distancing requirements. For more information, call 642.8046.

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Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and the News Director for WTXY AM1540 & Kool 103.9FM Radio. He can be reached at (910) 632-4965, or by email at