The Columbia Police Department released security footage of three men they say may have gotten into an argument with 20-year-old Michael Smith moments before Smith began firing his pistol— hitting 18-year-old Martha Childress as she waited for a taxi with friends. Police say the three may have also witnessed the shooting.
Smith was caught near the shooting and police officers said they found the gun he had used. Smith is charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a violent felony, unlawful carrying of a pistol, and possession of a stolen pistol. He was denied bond on Monday. If you have any information about the men sought by police for questioning, please call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.
Meanwhile, the organization which represents the dozens of stores, bars, and restaurants in Five Points said it strongly opposes several possible changes pushed by USC president Harris Pastides. In a statement Tuesday, Pastides said city leaders should consider closing bars after 2 a.m. (they are currently required to stop serving alcohol at that time) and possibly closing off the entertainment district to all but pedestrian traffic. The Five Points Association said in a statement that it is “adamantly opposed” those proposals because it says, “neither addresses the real issue in Five Points – gang violence.”
“The association would welcome the opportunity to share with city officials, the Columbia Police Department and the University of South Carolina, the reasons why these don’t address Five Points’ real issues and suggest other possible solutions,” the statement continued.
The association said it has been seeking help with a growing gang problem for several years, installing more than 200 security cameras and employing private security.