Crime & Courts

Violence and pain still plaguing Columbia’s most dangerous block

Life in Columbia’s most dangerous neighborhood

North Pointe Estates has had the highest rate of violent crime in Columbia during a three-year period.
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North Pointe Estates has had the highest rate of violent crime in Columbia during a three-year period.

Editor’s note: We caught up with the most interesting people we wrote about in 2018. Learn what’s new with each this week.

Neighborhood Max was recently shot during a robbery.

And Tootie has set college aside to care for her child.

Life hasn’t improved for these two residents of Columbia’s most dangerous block. The State introduced readers to several residents who live in North Poine Estates, a low-income neighborhood in north Columbia that has logged the highest number of violent crimes during a three-year span, according to an analysis by the newspaper.

At the time of the initial story, 20-year-old Neighborhood Max was recovering from a stabbing incident outside a neighbor’s apartment. When a reporter caught up with him in December, he was recovering from a shooting.

“It’s same thing, different day,” he said.

Neighborhood Max hitched a ride with someone in early November to the Cheap Way gas station on Two Notch Road. He needed Goody’s headache powder for his girlfriend back home, he said.

But a man armed with a pistol approached the passenger side window in the parking lot and ordered Neighborhood Max to empty his pockets, he said.

Recognizing the man from the neighborhood, Max got out of the car to confront him. Two gunshots rang out. The first bullet went through his right arm, just below the elbow, and lodged into his side. The second bullet hit him in the back. He ran from the scene.

Columbia police have no records of this shooting incident, officials said. But he has four gunshot wounds in his body from a small-caliber pistol to prove it. At the hospital, staff asked if he knew the shooter. Keeping with tradition, he said he didn’t. He knew life could get a lot worse if he said anything else.

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Tootie holds her 7-month-old son, Da’Yon, in her home in North Pointe Estates. Tootie is attending school to become a medical assistant to provide a better life for her son. Gavin McIntyre

Meanwhile, North Pointe resident Tootie is also struggling and still living in a bare second-floor apartment.

At the time of the story, the 22-year-old was attending school at Remington College on Bush River Road in pursuit of a medical assisting degree. She aspires to build a better life for her 1-year-old son, Da’Yon, and to eventually escape the violence.

But now, she’s had to put school on hold to care for her baby.

“I don’t want to say he’s spoiled, but he won’t let anyone else watch him,” she said. “He’s being a little difficult and I’m having trouble finding babysitters.”

And with her limited income, child care is too big of a financial strain.

But she’s keeping her eye on the prize, she said, by focusing on finding a stable sitter and getting back into the classroom.

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Known by many as The Bedroc, North Pointe Estates recently came under new management. Tootie said the new manager has a zero-tolerance policy of violence or vandalism of any kind, and has installed more cameras throughout the complex.

But it still doesn’t make her feel any safer.

“Nothing has changed, really,” she said. “Everything is still the same.”

But at least one group of North Pointe residents are on the road to a better life.

In October, members of Village Church in Blythewood, looking to help residents on the block, spent about $10,000 repairing a van that shuttles neighborhood kids to youth sporting events. They filled the 2000 Ford Club Wagon with 620 gift bags — mostly home goods such as paper towels, toilet paper and cleaning supplies — to pass out to families in the community.

“That’s amazing,” said the van’s owner, Uncle James, at the time. “It’s going to touch a lot of people in this neighborhood.”

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The State’s project reporter Cody Dulaney has covered issues facing law enforcement in South Carolina and Florida for six years, earning him two statewide awards for his work in Fla. He received a degree in journalism from the University of South Florida, where he also studied criminology.