Business owners near Five Points, not shocked by the violence

Restaurant employee shot during robbery in parking lot
Restaurant employee shot during robbery in parking lot

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Cook-Out employee who was shot during a robbery was treated and released from the hospital over the weekend.

Some employees say after Saturday mornings incident, they're keeping an eye out as they make their way in and out of the restaurant, but for other business owners along Harden, they're not shocked by the violence.

John Hart has watched the area around his store on Harden Street change over the last 18 years.  Shocked isn't the word he'd use to describe Saturday's shooting of the Cook-out employee.

"It perhaps is surprising that there isn't more of this violence going on," said Hart.

His neighbor, Leslie Minerd, owner of Hip-Wa-Zee Costume Shop and Vintage Clothing, has similar feelings.

"I'm not surprised with such easy access to weapons, we live in a gun culture, a culture of violence," said Minerd.

Hart and Minerd believe Statewide Security System's camera in the Five Points area help some to combat the crime, but believe the problem may be bigger than that.

"It's not an easy solution, put cameras in Five Points," said Hart. "We can put more policemen on the beats, but it's really a problem that's much more systemic."

"There are a lot of desperate people out there," said Minerd. "They feel they have nothing to lose."

Several businesses including Cook-out have surveillance cameras, although it's still uncertain if any caught the crime.

Columbia Police also have extra patrols in the area, especially Thursday night through early Sunday morning, but in this case, the bold suspect struck around 9:00 a.m., after additional patrols would have ended.

Hart says it comes down to the individual.

"It's, it's here, it's in here," said Hart, gesturing towards his chest. "Our hearts are not in the right place."

Hart's not sure the fix is an easy one.

"The problem is we've forgotten God," said Hart. "We've forgotten who we are, and we want to do our own will."

Business owners hope the man responsible is caught, but are confident he won't be the last to commit violence in the area.

Columbia Police are looking for a man who shot a restaurant employee in Five Points while trying to rob him Saturday morning.

Police say at about 9 a.m., a man armed with a gun followed a Cook Out employee out of the restaurant as he walked toward his car.  The man was in his car when the suspect pointed a gun at him and demanded money.

The suspect shot the employee in the shoulder. The victim was taken to the hospital with what police say was a non life-threatening injury.

After the shooting, police say the man ran toward Senate and Walnut Streets. Police used a K-9 to track the suspect, but they lost the trail on Senate St. Investigators believe the man may have gotten into a car.

If you have any information that can help investigators, call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

Copyright 2012 WIS. All rights reserved.