From our News Partners at WCBD-TV:
COLUMBIA, S.C. - University of South Carolina president Dr. Harris Pastides is calling on Columbia and Richland County officials to make the Five Points area near campus safer after another shooting over the weekend.
One man was shot in the leg, police say after an argument. They’ve arrested Jacob Green and charged him with the shooting. Shante Tabor is charged as an accessory, lying to police. The shooting happened early Saturday morning.
Dr. Pastides said in a written statement, “Last night, our community narrowly avoided another tragedy in Five Points. The facts that the gunshots fired did not cause serious injury, and that no USC students were involved, do not make the consequences any less real to our campus or to our neighbors.
“As I did last fall, I’m calling for action—working together the city, county, merchants, neighborhoods and university must take back Five Points before crime becomes the unacceptable norm.”
USC student Martha Childress, of Greenville, was hit by a stray bullet and paralyzed last October in Five Points as she waited for a taxi. The shooter has since pleaded guilty to a federal gun charge.
After that shooting, USC reinstituted shuttle buses to take students to and from Five Points, “in an effort to get our students out of the area before the early morning hours,” Dr. Pastides’ statement says.
He’s also calling on the Columbia Police Department and Richland County Sheriff’s Department to increase policing in Five Points Thursday through Saturday nights.
Acting Columbia Police Chief Melron Kelly says, "We have officers out there, highly visible. Plain clothes officers out as well. But we constantly check with the bar patrons and the bar owners just to make sure that they know that we're there. And that, you know, if there are any issues that they can call us. But we really want to make sure that the public knows that we're not just there for law enforcement. We're there to make sure that everyone's having a safe evening and we're there just to make sure that they know that Five Points is open for business and is a safe place to be."
USC student body president Lindsay Richardson says students are talking about the shootings.
"I think a majority of students, especially after earlier this year with the Martha Childress incident, it was more of a wake-up call and this one's even more of a louder ringing of that alarm, just to make sure that we are of our surroundings, we are aware of the community that we're in and we're aware that our safety really should be one of our top concerns, wherever we go," she says.
Pastides is also calling for:
Columbia City Council to take action to close bars at 2 a.m. and alcohol laws should be more strictly enforced.
Five Points should be made more pedestrian-friendly, and the city should consider making it pedestrian-only during designated hours.
And the city should continue to evaluate and enhance lighting, cameras and other security infrastructure.
Image courtesy of WCBD-TV.