Columbia, SC (WLTX) - University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides is again calling something to be done to curb the violence in Columbia's Five Points district.
Pastides released a statement Saturday night, hours after another shooting in the entertainment and shopping district.
"What more will it take to pick up the pace of action?" Pastides asked.
The latest violent incident took place at 12:45 a.m. Saturday in the 800 block of Harden Street.
According to Columbia police, a fight between two men ended with one of them was shot in the leg. No suspect is in custody, but officers have released photos of people they want to question in connection with the case. Previous Coverage: Overnight Shooting in 5 Points Injures One
"The facts that the gunshots fired did not cause serious injury, and that no USC students were involved, do not make the consequences any less real to our campus or to our neighbors," Pastides said in his statement. "As I did last fall, I'm calling for action—working together the city, county, merchants, neighborhoods and university must take back Five Points before crime becomes the unacceptable norm."
Pastides issued a similar message last October after USC student Martha Childress was shot in Five Points while waiting for a cab. In that case, police believe the suspect was aiming for another person and hit her instead.
Childress was left paralyzed from the incident.
Pastides says Columbia Police and Richland County deputies must commit the resources to increase patroling in Five Points Thursday through Saturday nights, and wants Columbia City Council to close bars and other businesses in the area at 2 p.m. He also wants more enforcement of alcohol laws, suggests making the area pedestrian only, and suggests more lighting and security cameras.
He says the school also has been educating students on ways to stay safe.
Below is Pastides' full statement:
Last night, our community narrowly avoided another tragedy in Five Points. The facts that the gunshots fired did not cause serious injury, and that no USC students were involved, do not make the consequences any less real to our campus or to our neighbors.
As I did last fall, I'm calling for action—working together the city, county, merchants, neighborhoods and university must take back Five Points before crime becomes the unacceptable norm.
Now is the time to implement effective change for a safer Five Points. What more will it take to pick up the pace of action?
For our part, USC has reinstituted shuttles to and from Five Points in an effort to get our students out of the area before the early morning hours. This helps to be sure, but the effectiveness of shuttles and taxis is impaired by snarled traffic, cruising vehicles and curbsides occupied by parked cars that obstruct the free flow of pedestrians and impeded sight lines.
Also, we are changing student behaviors by spreading the message of "Stand Up Carolina," to take care of yourself and each other. We educate students and provide safety tips encouraging them to walk in groups, stay in well-lit areas and when at all possible take transportation.
We've increased the number of sworn officers on our staff and picked up patrols in the areas bordering our campus and continue to assist when needed by CPD. But we can't patrol Five Points. That can't be the job of USC law enforcement.
We have been working closely with the city and Five Points Association to identify root causes and rogue establishments—and take action to address those issues.
Now, we must continue to make progress:
- The Columbia Police Department and Richland County Sheriff's Department must commit the resources necessary to increase policing in Five Points Thursday through Saturday nights;
- Columbia City Council should take action to close establishments at 2 a.m. and regulatory agencies should take greater action to ensure all alcohol laws and regulations are being adhered to and enforced; establishments that repeatedly violate ordinances should have their license revoked.
- Five Points must be more pedestrian friendly and we should consider a transportation and parking solution that would support pedestrian-only access during designated hours.
- And, we must continue to evaluate and enhance lighting, cameras and other security infrastructure.
Combating violence is a community problem that requires a community solution. As friends and neighbors, let's pick up the pace to ensure that Five Points is safe for everyone.