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DALLAS The Amzel Gardens apartment complex near Fair Park is considered one of the most dangerous places in the city.

It's out of control, said Dallas resident Michael Hamilton. A bunch of drug dealers, shooting, fighting, gambling.

It s so dangerous, Dallas police won't respond to a call without at least four patrol officers.

Do you think this place should be shut down? we asked resident Elenora Hamilton. Demolished, she replied.

While News 8 was shooting video across the street from the apartments, three women in a car came to a screeching halt and threatened us.They used language we can t report, threatening to take our tape and beat us up.

The city sued the owners of Amzel Gardens to clean it up, and won. Now management is forced to have armed guards on the property.

[We check] every car that comes in, or even people who walk in, said one of the guards.

Every person is checked even residents.

You got to show your identification every time you leave in and out, Hamilton said.

The city keeps a list of the most dangerous complexes all across Dallas.

After the murder of Dallas police officer Norm Smith, the city passed an ordinance that high-crime complexes must be part of a mandatory crime-reduction program.

A lot of our crime is in and around apartment complexes, and we just try to find ways to address that, and this is one of the tools, said Lt. Gerald Smalley.

The apartment complexes must do extensive criminal background checks on renters, enforce security, and meet with police regularly.

Police said say it's helping.

It works better if the management and owners are invested, Smalley said. It only works as much as we can help each other out.

There are many people in these complexes who are caught in the danger. Some families have their children sleep on floors because they fear getting shot.

Audrey Runnels, 80, lives in a complex where police have to respond almost daily. She watches as the young people in her community cause trouble.

It makes me sad, she said.

Many people like Runnels can't afford to live in fancier complexes, so they are stuck in the crime. But she takes it in stride, and is happy she has a roof over her head.

She's not afraid. My heavenly father watches over me, Runnels said, so I have no fear.

Currently, there are 12 complexes the city says have elevated crime rates and must report to police. If they don't, the city can move to have them shut down.

It is a long process, however, one that can take years.

In the meantime, Runnels says she'll rely on her faith to keep her safe.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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