Assaults, shooting in Five Points under investigation

Published: Sep. 24, 2012 at 9:48 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2012 at 9:48 PM EDT
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A still frame taken from video posted on Facebook of one of the assaults.
A still frame taken from video posted on Facebook of one of the assaults.

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Columbia Police are investigating a shooting and two assaults that took place early Sunday morning in Five Points.

In both incidents, which occurred between 12 a.m. and 2 a.m. on Harden Street, police say the assaults began with arguments between the victims and the assailants and escalated.

The victims were unable to provide extensive details on the suspects, but both said they were attacked by a group of males.

The first assault happened outside of The Thirsty Parrot around 1 a.m.

The victim reported bumping into two men while he was walking past the business. He says he attempted to walk away, but was punched in the back of the head by one of the men. He said eight unknown men then began punching him several times in the face.

He suffered a broken arm in the incident.

The second assault happened outside of Pop's New York Pizza around 2:00 a.m.

Witnesses say a man and several others got into a verbal argument that escalated into a fist fight.

Video posted on Facebook shows the man throwing a couple of punches and then being hit by several men before collapsing to the ground. One of the participants is also seen kicking the man.

As for the shooting, police say it happened around 1:15 a.m. in the Rite Aid parking lot on Harden Street.

According to a police report, an officer heard several gunshots in the area and then ran to the sound of the gunfire.

Once on the scene, witnesses told the officer they saw a light in color Ford truck fleeing from the area.

Another witness reported being knocked to the ground and robbed by four men wearing all black just before the gunfire erupted. Two of the suspects are described as having dreadlocks and the other two had short to medium Afros, the report stated.

A vehicle in the area sustained damage to the rear windows and front passenger headrest.

Nine .40 caliber shell casings were recovered at the scene. No one was hurt.

CPD continues to investigate the incidents and is reviewing surveillance footage in hopes of identifying suspects.

Meanwhile, those who own businesses in Five Points are frustrated with the negative news that often follows these types of incidents.

After spending tens of thousands of dollars on security cameras and cooperating with the city on a teen curfew, business owners say they not sure what more they can do to help keep the peace.

"It's a partnership between us and the police department, but at the end of the day, at 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning, it's not the Five Points Association and the board of directors standing out here trying to make things safer, it's the police," said Merritt McHaffie, Executive Director of the Five Points Association. "We rely heavily on them and we will continue to rely heavily on them now."

"This is not saying they don't do a good job, but we sometimes feel as helpless as they are with some of our issues," said McHaffie. "We just want to get around the table and all look at each other and say something has to be done and we have to take it seriously."

"I think crime is everywhere, people are more aware of it in Five Points because there are more people here and more eyes on it," said McHaffie.

Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott plans to discuss the incidents with the media this afternoon.

We'll have a crew there and will bring you the latest starting on the News at 5pm.

If you have any information about these cases, you are urged to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

Copyright 2012 WIS. All rights reserved.