COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The family of a now paralyzed University of South Carolina freshman is looking for action to address the violence and crime problems plaguing the Five Points neighborhood.
Ron Johnson, the stepfather of 18-year-old Martha Childress, and the family's attorney, Joe McCulloch, held a news conference Monday to talk for the first time since random gunfire wounded Childress on Oct. 13.
"This message is burned in our soul and we're going to continue to fight," said Johnson.
Johnson also delivered a message of thanks for the quick action to internal injuries after a stray bullet sliced through Childress' lung, kidney, liver, and spine. The nightmares continue.
"One of her re-occurring nightmares is she hears the gunshot and so she's had a very fitful week," said Johnson.
"They could be monitored for the purpose of sending police to an area that is about to be a problem area, that's an idea using resources we have," said McCulloch.
We know increased patrols in the Five Points this past weekend resulted in 18 arrests despite a lower turnout because of Fall Break. Someone bold enough to be unlawfully carrying a handgun Saturday night was among the nine arrests made. Eight others were arrested Friday and one Thursday night. After Childress waited a half hour for a cab, the family calls on USC to reinstate a shuttle with money from the SEC.
"I'm going to guess they could pull off a few of those crisp bills and reinstate the shuttle service," said McCulloch. "That is an absolute."
Johnson and McCulloch also threw their support behind court reform and requiring repeat offenders to notify the jail if re-arrested.
"If you fail to do this within the time frame we're saying and you got to do it in writing, that way you can prove you did it," said McCulloch. "That is an independent condition that we will call a revocable condition. We will revoke your bond if re-arrested and you fail to do this."
The family continues to request prayers for Childress as she begins a rigorous 2-month program of exercise, rehabilitation, and education for her spinal injury. The family acknowledges she has a difficult road ahead, but says she's tough and will continue to fight.
Friends and family have set up a website called PrayForMartha.com for additional information about Childress and for those who want to contribute to a fund set up for her. The city said last week they'll take 30 days to review all of the suggestions from last week's forum and Monday's with students.