UPDATE: Bond denied for Five Points shooting suspect; USC student who was shot may be paralyzed

jmonk@thestate.comOctober 13, 2013 

  • Thestate.com

    Find more stories on Five Points violence with this story and read previous stories about how the city is addressing violence in the popular entertainment district.

— A municipal judge denied bond Monday morning for the suspect in a shooting early Sunday morning in Five Points that left an 18-year-old University of South Carolina freshman critically injured.

Michael Juan Smith, 20, will remain in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, following his appearance before Judge James Guignard in a Richland County courtroom. 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.

The woman, who is from the Upstate, was hit in the 700 block of Harden Street by a stray bullet in a flurry of gunfire after two men began arguing, police said, adding the victim was not the intended target.

A family member said the young woman had taken a friend visiting from Clemson University to Five Points. They were standing in front of the Five Points fountain waiting for a taxi cab home at the time of the shooting.

The family member said the victim — who was a 4.0 student before graduating from an Upstate high school — may be paralyzed and likely will never walk again.

USC president Harris Pastides Sunday night issued a statement expressing his outrage at the violence. “I am shocked and deeply saddened to learn that a random act of gun violence has harmed one of our students in the Five Points area early this morning.” Pastides said.

Another person, Ryan Ellison, 17, was arrested after the shooting and charged with public disorderly conduct. He was taken to Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

The Five Points area, just east of USC’s main campus, draws thousands of USC students every weekend. Students also come from colleges across the state, and the resulting crowds jam the bars and streets every Saturday night, especially during football season. For several years, it has been plagued by sporadic incidents of gun and knife violence, beatings, arson and drunken drivers.

The shooting – between Greene and Devine streets – was captured on video on one of the several hundred surveillance cameras in operation in Five Points, said spokeswoman Jennifer Timmons.

In the video, the shooter is clearly identifiable, Timmons said.

In recent months, Five Points has been the object of increased police patrols in an effort to keep crime at a minimum. The beefed-up police presence may have been one reason suspects were captured so quickly.

Interim police chief Ruben Santiago said Sunday of the shooting, “This is a senseless crime. Here is a young lady who was standing with a large group of people when she gets shot and then collapses in front of her friends. Now she is fighting for her life in the hospital. The shooter has no respect for human life and will face the consequences. Our prayers are with victim and her family."

Police gave this version of events:

More than 10 officers were still on patrol in Five Points when they heard gunshots around 2:30 a.m. Sunday and ran toward where the shooting took place.

While going toward the gunshots, an officer spotted a young man running away from the scene. The officer conducted what police described as “a lawful search” and recovered a gun believed to have been used in the shooting. Police have traced the gun and believe it to have been stolen in Richland County.

City police have arrested two people after a University of South Carolina college student was shot in the 700 block of Harden Street early Sunday morning.

The woman, 18, is in a local hospital in critical condition, police said.

She was struck by a stray bullet in a flurry of gunfire after two men began arguing and was not the shooter’s intended target, police said.

USC president Harris Pastides Sunday night issued a statement expressing his outrage at the violence:

“I am shocked and deeply saddened to learn that a random act of gun violence has harmed one of our students in the Five Points area early this morning.” Pastides said.

“The university is working closely with our student and her family to provide all available resources. On behalf of the entire Carolina family, Patricia and I offer our thoughts and prayers for healing and recovery and for the safety and well-being of all of our students.”

In recent months, Five Points has been the object of increased police patrols in an effort to keep crime at a minimum. The beefed-up police presence may have been one reason suspects were captured so quickly.

Interim police chief Ruben Santiago said Sunday of the shooting, “This is a senseless crime. Here is a young lady who was standing with a large group of people when she gets shot and then collapses in front of her friends. Now she is fighting for her life in the hospital. The shooter has no respect for human life and will face the consequences. Our prayers are with victim and her family."

Police gave this version of events:

More than 10 officers were still on patrol in Five Points when they heard gunshots around 2:30 a.m. Sunday and ran toward where the shooting took place.

While going toward the gunshots, an officer spotted a young man running away from the scene. The officer conducted what police described as “a lawful search” and recovered a gun believed to have been used in the shooting. Police have traced the gun and believe it to have been stolen in Richland County.

Police have formally charged Michael Juan Smith, 20, 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.

Another person, Ryan Ellison, 17, is charged with public disorderly conduct.

Both Smith and Ellison are in Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

Amy Beth Franks, executive director of the Five Points Association, said in a statement: “The Five Points community is deeply saddened by the news of the innocent bystander who was critically injured in last night’s shooting. This incident is a tragedy that should have never happened. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family during this difficult time.”

Franks statement continued: “We are appreciative of the Columbia Police Department’s quick apprehension of the suspect. The Five Points community is thankful to Interim Chief Ruben Santiago, City Manager Teresa Wilson and Mayor Steve Benjamin for their calls and commitment to addressing the root of this problem.

Santiago said, “Streets thugs are on notice. If you decide to commit a crime in Five Points, you will be caught on surveillance camera and you will be captured by law enforcement and sent to jail. Officers have been patrolling Five Points for several months and will continue to do so. The city is seeing the results of their hard work. I am commending CPD Officers on their prompt response to this incident.”

Reach Monk at (803) 771-8344. Reach Monk at (803) 771-8344.

The State is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service