The scene in Five Points after Sunday morning shooting
One person was arrested Sunday in an overnight shooting that left three injured in Five Points, one of Columbia's most popular entertainment districts.
The incident happened around 2 a.m. Sunday at Harden and Greene streets.
The Columbia Police Department late Sunday afternoon announced the arrest of Arthur Jones, 22, of Hopkins, in connection with the shooting. The incident happened as patrons were being ushered out of the Five Points bars that close at 2 a.m.
The three male victims, all in their early 20s, were being treated at local hospitals. Two of the victims were listed in critical condition late Sunday morning, while the third was in stable condition.
Jones was charged with three counts of attempted murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime, police said. He was taken to the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center and will have a bond hearing Monday morning.
Investigators identified Jones and determined that he was the primary shooter, police reported. Initial information indicated that Jones was involved in an unknown argument with another male before he allegedly shot multiple times into a large crowd.
The victims, according to Columbia police, were: Howard Boone Jr., a 23-year-old from Raleigh, N.C., who attends St. Augustine's University; a 22-year-old who is stationed at Shaw Air Force Base; and a a 20-year-old from Winnsboro.
"Howard Boone Jr. is a 23-year-old criminal justice major from Raleigh, N.C. Mr. Boone was visiting the area with friends and was an innocent victim," St. Augustine's University said in a news release.
The annual St. Pat's in Five Points event was held all day Saturday at the restaurant and entertainment district near the University of South Carolina. Police described the crowd size in Five Points as being similar to a USC football game day, but said the day overall was fairly quiet.
"For such a large crowd it was a pretty normal night," Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said. "We are unaware of anything that happened earlier in the night that led to this. ... This seemed to be isolated to something that occurred potentially as the bars were letting out."
There were five arrests during the St. Pats festival, Holbrook said, and only one call for service up until the shooting. He asked that anyone who witnessed or recorded video at the scene to contact police at (803) 545-3500.
Prior to the early evening arrest, Columbia police released surveillance photos of persons of interest in connection to the shooting.
After seeing themselves on the news, Jones and the three men captured in surveillance pictures turned themselves in, according to the police. It is not believed that the three men were directly involved in the shooting, therefore, no charges will be filed against them — at this time.
The Columbia Police Department contacted its federal partners and additional charges against Jones may be forthcoming in this developing investigation.
Alex Waelde was working in Five Points on Saturday night, said he was standing on the sidewalk just outside the Roost and witnessed one victim laying in the roadway just in front of him, facing him. Waelde runs the Twitter account known as Drinking Ticket.
At Saloon, half a block from the intersection of Harden and Greene streets, a police officer told the bar to lock down and a shelter was in place just after the shots were fired. About 20 to 30 people remained inside the bar at that time.
Saloon, Roost, Breakers and Group Therapy are all clustered around that intersection. That intersection typically fills with several hundred people around 2 a.m. on Sunday mornings, when all bars are required by state law to close.
Brandon Reil, a Coastal Carolina University student who was in town for the St. Pat's in Five Points festival, was outside Waffle House on Harden Street, about two blocks from Greene Street, when the shots were fired. He said he heard perhaps four or five shots in quick succession but saw nothing. He did not notice a rush of people from his vantage point, but by the time he walked near the scene several minutes later, emergency personnel were swarming.
The crime scene Sunday morning spanned several blocks of Harden Street. Around 4 a.m., two hours after the incident, the streets were almost silent. There were crowds inside Cookout and Waffle House. A homeless man slept on a bus bench.
After the shooting, business owners and residents around Five Points were talking again about whether the popular entertainment district has a problem with violent crime.
"This demonstrates the atmosphere of lawlessness in Five Points after dark," said Columbia attorney Dick Harpootlian, who is representing two city residents who live near Five Points in challenging the operating permits of two Harden Street bars. Those residents say they are concerned about the impact the growing number of bars has had on the area.
"The city needs to wake up," said Harpootlian, who lives in Wales Garden near Five Points. "It's beginning to resemble Mogadishu."
Steve Cook, the owner of Saluda's Restaurant near Five Points' fountain, notes that there were very few problems during the day Saturday, when the area was filled with revelers for the annual St. Patrick's Day celebration.
"I was down there all day long," he said. "You had thousands of people and very few bad actors."