Neighbors of a Lexington man who was gunned down during an apartment break-in Monday said the shooting is the latest in an increasing number of crimes in neighborhoods near Henry Clay High School.
Investigators had not identified the man Monday afternoon, but relatives identified him as Saul Perez, 33.
Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said police were called to the Dinsmore Apartments, on Dinsmore Drive off Fontaine Road, about 2:16 a.m. for a report of shots fired. She said homicide investigators think one or more people forced their way into an apartment where the victim was staying and opened fire.
Police had not discussed a possible motive, but neighbor Paula Mattingly said she thinks the men were trying to rob Perez and his roommate, who "didn't use banks" and kept their money in the house, she said.
"They were looking for a quick come-up," she said.
Neighbors sat outside Monday afternoon, hours after the shooting, talking to each other. Some spoke of moving away because of recent violence in the area.
"I was class of 2005 at Henry Clay, and it wasn't near as bad as it is now," said Jordan Coy, 25, who lives at the complex a few doors down from the shooting. "There have been at least four or five big things like this that have happened. It's too close for comfort."
Neighbors said they hear of gang activity, drugs and assaults regularly, although Monday's shooting was the first time in recent memory a violent crime happened at the Dinsmore Apartments, which back up to Henry Clay's tennis courts.
"It's been in the buildings around us, but it's never been here in this complex," Mattingly said.
Among those gathered at the complex was Saul Perez's sister, mother and other relatives.
Lizeth Perez, 13, identified the victim as her brother. She said she and several relatives traveled to Lexington from their home in Louisville Monday morning after hearing that he had been killed, she said.
They stood on the street outside the U-shaped, three-story apartment complex consoling each other and talking to neighbors and a victim's advocate. Lizeth said her brother moved in about a year ago.
"He was a really outgoing person. He liked to have fun," she said. "He wasn't mean to anybody. I didn't know of him having any enemies or anything like that."
Neighbors said there did not appear to be anything unusual about Saul Perez. They said he worked all day and mostly kept to himself. He was pleasant and friendly when he spoke, they said.
Mattingly was one of several neighbors who said they heard the gunshots Monday. She went outside to see what was going on after a crash riled her dogs up. She said she thinks the crash was the sound of Perez's door getting kicked in.
About the time she opened her front door, she heard five to eight shots and saw four men run to a sport-utility vehicle and drive off.
If it was a robbery, Mattingly said, she doubted the men had time to grab anything, given how quickly it all happened.
"They just took a man's life. They all got murder raps now, running from the police, and they got nothing to show for it," she said. "They didn't get no money, they didn't get no drugs, but they took a man's life."
Forensics detectives spent more than eight hours at the apartment complex. Police had cordoned off a lower-level breezeway near the entrance to Perez's apartment. Detectives were going in and out of the apartment on the lower level, carrying evidence to a mobile crime lab.
Monday's shooting was the latest of several that have been a stone's throw from Henry Clay High School. The Herald-Leader has covered several shootings on Dinsmore Drive and neighboring Fontaine Road and Lakeshore Drive in the past two years.
In October 2011, a juvenile was shot in the head on Lakeshore Drive but survived. The shooting came at the end of nine violent days when there were 14 shootings in Lexington, including one on Dinsmore Drive.
Another shooting occurred on Dinsmore in May 2011. A man was seriously hurt when he was shot multiple times outside an apartment building during an argument with several people.
Two months earlier, a Wing Zone delivery driver shot and injured a juvenile in self-defense on Lakeshore after the juvenile apparently tried to rob him, police said.
"I'm scared to walk down to the bus stop to get to work in the morning," said Alexendria Wiedmeyer, 21. "You don't know what could happen."
As of Monday afternoon, police had not made an arrest in the most recent shooting on Dinsmore. Roberts said police were searching for a silver sport-utility vehicle with tinted windows. The vehicle, which was carrying four men, was seen in the area at the time of the shooting, she said.
Josh Kegley: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLPublicSafety.