VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Several residents in the Virginia Beach neighborhood of Salem Lakes are fed up with their neighbor after they say he’s taunted them from behind his front door for more than a year.
In the past, Jannique Martinez said her neighbor blasted banjo music so loudly that it would shake her home. And recently, after alerting the police about the music, Martinez said her neighbor has retaliated by playing racial slurs and monkey noises.
“Whenever we would step out of our house, the monkey noises would start,” Martinez said. “And it’s so racist, and it’s disgusting.”
Martinez, a veteran of the military, recorded some of the audio on her cell phone. She says the noises and slurs continue even when her school-age children are playing outside.
“My son is terrified of him. Terrified, terrified,” Martinez said about her child. “The N-word situation… They came to me and said, ‘Mom, what’s that?’ I didn’t subject my kids to that. I didn’t think they would ever have to learn what this means.”
Her family isn’t the only one feeling harassed by the neighbor’s antics. Other families in the cul-de-sac have songs played while they’re outside as well.
“He has played music to taunt the entire cul-de-sac,” said Martinez, who explained that her neighbors are antagonized with their own “specific song” as soon as they pull up in their driveways.
In addition to the sounds, neighbors are concerned about the home security cameras on his property.
“We are constantly under surveillance,” Martinez explained. “There are a total of eight cameras that we know of.”
A Virginia Beach police spokeswoman told WAVY that officers have responded to nine complaints about the neighbor’s activity. Seven of those calls were for nuisance complaints, and another three were in reference to parking or traffic complaints. So far, there have not been any criminal charges pressed against the neighbor in question.
Police tell WAVY the complaint would have to match certain criteria before the possibility of criminal charges is on the table.
Still, Martinez feels like nothing has been done to make her, or her neighbors, feel safe at their homes.
“I actually felt like… helpless a little bit. Because I’ve gone to the magistrate, I’ve gone to civil court, I’ve talked to a lawyer… I’ve done what I can to do it the right way.”
Neighbors were told there’s a fine line of when police can actually step in — and having a racial slur played over a recording may not meet that line.
“According to the law, it’s just a statement or a phrase or he’s not doing enough or bodily harm or threats to my family,” said Martinez.
“Why does it have to go that far before something that can be done? People shouldn’t have to live like this. I spent 11 years in the military. My husband is also in the military. We fought for this country, but yet there’s no one to fight for us.”