September 4, 2014

Barhamville Estates community wants action, protection following weekend shootings

Columbia’s Barhamville Estates community wants protection following two incidents involving gunfire over the weekend.

Columbia’s Barhamville Estates community wants protection following two incidents involving gunfire over the weekend.

Kevin Gray and a friend witnessed a shooting in the neighborhood, which is near C.F. Bolden Stadium, shortly after the football game between C.A. Johnson and Eau Claire last Friday night.

“A friend of mine and I were coming back down St. Louis (Street) near Barhamville Road when we saw three young men chasing another young man, and they were shooting at him,” Gray said.

“They were in Rep. Leon Howard’s front yard shooting,” Gray said. “There were about five or six shots, and we had to slam on the brakes or we would have been right in the line of fire.”

Howard said he was not home at the time of the incident.

“It doesn’t matter if it happened in front of a representative’s house,” Howard said. “I am concerned that an incident happened, whether it was in my yard, or my neighbor’s yard or in the community.”

After Gray saw the three young men shooting, he said he got out of the truck and yelled for the police who were already near Barhamville Estates.

Police were patrolling the area after a call about possible shots fired near railroad tracks behind Bolden Stadium, according to the Columbia Police Department.

Shots were reportedly heard by the tracks that run near school property shortly after some juveniles were kicked out of the stadium during the C.A. Johnson-Eau Claire game because of fighting, said Jennifer Timmons, a Columbia Police Department spokeswoman.

Police said a passing car’s rear window was shattered by gunfire near Perry Middle School.

The five people inside the vehicle were not injured, police said.

“We need to have a discussion about what’s going on,” Gray said. “My concern is for the safety of this community, that’s the main interest of our subdivision. We’re all homeowners, there’s very little turnover. Most of us pay for and own our homes.”

“What I would like to see happen is for the police department to give that community the same attention and same sense of urgency they’ve given Five Points and The Vista,” Howard said. “They deserve to have a safe community just like the people in Five Points and The Vista deserve. We don’t want ceremony, we want real action.”

Howard said the area, which is a nice, quiet community with many retired professionals, needs boots on the ground during games. Gray, who has lived in the community for more than 30 years and had two children graduate from C.A. Johnson, said the neighborhood is more important than the extracurricular activities, such as football games.

The two groups responsible are the police and the schools, Gray said.

“I hope the police are investigating and talking to school administrators. I hope they do something and are proactive,” Gray said.

Timmons said there are no new leads regarding the investigation of the shots fired into the car. She said anyone with information about last weekend’s incidents should call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

She said Deputy Chief Melron Kelly and Chief Skip Holbrook were out last weekend speaking with several community members, and police patrolled the area last Saturday.

When asked if the police department has any additional plans for the neighborhood this weekend, Timmons said the department has a long-term plan in place to address community and safety concerns.

C.A. Johnson plays in Pelion this week.

“The district works with local law enforcement agencies to provide security at all of our high school football games,” said Richland 1 spokeswoman Karen York.

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