Community leaders want changes after Five Points shooting - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Community leaders want changes after Five Points shooting

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Community leaders are looking for a way forward to put an end to the violence and crime that has plagued Five Points for the past several years.

This recent movement comes after an 18-year-old University of South Carolina student was critically wounded due to a shooting in the entertainment district.

Martha Childress was standing with friends late Saturday night, awaiting a cab to take her back to campus when gunfire rang out. She was hit by a stray bullet that became lodged in her spine. She is now paralyzed.

The man accused of firing the bullet that hit Childress was a complete stranger. Columbia Police say Michael Juan Smith was involved in a fight and began firing a gun. Officers say Childress was not Smith's intended target.

USC President Harris Pastides says the Five Points area is no longer safe for Gamecock students after midnight.

Pastides, along with Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and Richland County Rep. Kirkman Finlay are all leading the call for better policing in the area.

Benjamin says repeat violent offenders are just part of the reason for why senseless crimes continue to affect our neighborhoods.

The mayor has called an urgent community meeting on crime control Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at CPD's PACE Headquarters on Harden Street. Benjamin is calling for a citywide crackdown on gang violence, a campaign to confiscate illegal guns, and aggressive prosecution of violent crimes.

Finlay is also having a news conference Wednesday to discuss his ideas to improve safety in Five Points. That meeting is happening Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Pawley's Front Porch on Harden Street.

We look to cover both events.

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