Columbia police chief wants to talk with owners of Five Points bar

jmonk@thestate.comFebruary 25, 2013 

 

COLUMBIA POLICE

— An 18-year-old arrested over the weekend on two counts of attempted murder in connection with a Five Points shooting already was out of jail on bond for two counts of attempted murder in which two people were shot and wounded, according to Columbia’s police chief and court records.

Shaquan Cwiklinski, of 921 Scholfield Lane near Blythewood, is accused of trying to kill a Columbia police officer around 2 a.m. Sunday as the officer was arresting a friend of Cwiklinski’s in the area of 2000 Greene Street, according to Chief Randy Scott and arrest warrants.Scott said the fact that Cwiklinski — who is now back in jail under a new $325,000 cash bond on the latest charges — was out on bond at the time of Sunday’s shooting highlights a loophole in bond laws that allows people charged with dangerous crimes to easily get out of jail.

The police chief said he intends to meet with 5thCircuit Solicitor Dan Johnson to make sure Cwiklinski doesn’t easily make bail again.

“This person (Cwiklinski) does not need to be out of incarceration,” Scott said.

Scott’s comments came during a Monday news conference, following two weekends of shots-fired incidents in the popular Five Points entertainment district.

There were about 20 police officers on duty in Five Points during Sunday morning’s shooting — about twice the number on duty during the same period last year.

Arrests for drunkenness and some other violations in Five Points have decreased because of the beefed-up police presence, Scott said. The latest detailed crime statistics were not available Monday.

But Scott said he also is concerned about numerous acts of drunkenness, larceny, assault and overcrowding at or close to The Library Bar on Harden Street. Since 2009, more than 60 such incidents have taken place, Scott said.

“The Library has become a problem in Five Points,” Scott said.

It was outside The Library where a police officer took Cwiklinski’s friend into custody, Scott said. Cwiklinski allegedly ran out of the bar, got a gun and by the time he returned, the officer and Cwiklinski’s friend were outside.

Cwiklinski began firing, according to police. In the ensuing confusion, no one was hurt, but Cwiklinski fled. He was arrested later in a shopping center on Forest Drive.

Scott said he and Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins want to meet with operators of The Library Bar to see if the trouble in and around the bar can be resolved.

“We’re not having these problems with other bars in the district,” Scott said.

Efforts to reach operators of The Library Bar were unsuccessful Monday.

Other points during Scott’s news conference:

• The hundreds of surveillance cameras in Five Points that cover nearly the whole area with cameras that can function in low light led directly to Cwiklinski’s arrest, Scott said. Police originally wanted to charge him with discharging a firearm, but the surveillance cameras clearly showed he aimed and fired his handgun at a police officer and the man he was arresting — thus the two counts, Scott said.

• Cameras also show that while citizens were running from the gunfire, more than 10 Columbia police officers also were running toward the gunfire, Scott said, adding he was tired of hearing criticism of Five Points officers that they aren’t doing their job.

• Scott spoke out against a “gun rights” bill pending in the Legislature that would allow people to take concealed handguns into bars. Easy access to hidden guns by people drinking liquor might turn Five Points into a Wild West scene, Scott predicted.

“It would be like the O.K. Corral,” Scott said, referring to one of the most famous gunfights in American history in 1881 in Tombstone, Ariz., where three men were killed and three wounded in a shootout.

•  Mayor Steve Benjamin, who appeared with Scott, said he backed a bill now in the General Assembly that would permit bond to be denied to people accused of serious crimes. “A very small number of thugs are victimizing people across this state because of this loophole in the law,” Benjamin said.

Despite the recent shootings, Scott insisted Five Points is safe. But Five Points always has the potential for trouble, the chief said.

“It’s a bar district. Let’s get real about it. That’s not Disney World. It’s Five Points. They sell alcohol, and that’s the purpose at night — to go to Five Points to consume alcohol and to party and to have a good time.”

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