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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Columbia Police say the shooting at the Colony Apartments and the murder of a mother of four on Tommy Circle in Columbia were both gang related.

"They are just a bunch of street thugs, they want to go out there and they have no care for anyone's safety," said Chief Ruben Santiago.

Santiago with the Columbia Police Department says gangs have been in the city for the past 20 years.

He says the only difference from the past and now is that the members are ages 13- 20 years old.

"That's an age where they are still trying to figure out who they are and where they are going and obviously we want to impact them in a positive way and they will do something positive in life."

There are about 115 documented gang members in the police department's records.

Last week a mother of four was killed, officers say members of a gang were responsible. This week a 4-year-old girl was struck by a stray bullet.

"I was kind of like terrified because you can't just sit in your own house and know that you are going to be safe," said 19-year-old Portia Jordan.

Jordan and 18-year-old Alexus Mathews live at the Colony Apartments where the shooting took place.

"I just think gangs are stupid, I wish they did not exist because people are getting hurt and shot, people who have nothing to do with anything are dying," said Jordan.

"It's the main thing of the young kids trying to follow the crowd; they don't know how to lead themselves. They have to follow the leader. Its not "I am the leader" anymore," said Mathews.

Lt. Chris White heads the Gang Unit for the city and says stopping gang violence starts with education and community support.

"It's devastating but that is why we have programs in place we are implementing new programs to try and have an outlet for the children and the teens but to include the parents as well so they can refer children to these programs," said White.

Places like Colony Apartments have regular officer patrols, but Santiago says the community itself needs to work with officers so that criminals will be afraid to commit these senseless crimes.

"We need people in the community, strong members that really care about their neighborhood to think about what can they do to be impactful," said Santiago.

Members of the community say they are going to start a community watch team soon.

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