Crime & Courts

Teen girl shot by random gunfire at Five Points Chick-fil-A, Columbia police say

Watch Martha Childress testify in the 2015 trial of Michael Juan Smith

In 2013, USC freshman Martha Childress was paralyzed after errant gunfire from Michael Juan Smith in Five Points. In 2015, Smith was convicted of attempted murder.
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In 2013, USC freshman Martha Childress was paralyzed after errant gunfire from Michael Juan Smith in Five Points. In 2015, Smith was convicted of attempted murder.

A teenage girl was shot outside the Five Points Chick-fil-A early Sunday morning, the Columbia Police Department said.

The 17-year-old was hospitalized after she was hit by gunfire in the leg at about 1:30 a.m., police said in a news release.

The shooting occurred outside the fast-food chicken restaurant after it had closed for the evening, according to the release. It is on the 900 block of Harden Street, in an area with several bars and restaurants that is a popular destination, especially with University of South Carolina students.

Officers patrolling Five Points responded to a crowd in front of the Chick-fil-A after hearing two gunshots, police said.

When they arrived, officers found the teenager with a gunshot wound to her leg in front of the restaurant, according to the release.

The teen was taken to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and she has been released, police said.

Police said they do not believe the girl “was the intended target but rather an innocent victim of the random shooting.”

In 2013, USC student Martha Childress, then a freshman, was waiting for a taxi with friends near the Five Points fountain when an errant bullet fired in a nearby fight hit her in the back, paralyzing her from the waist down, The State reported.

The police were also alerted to Sunday’s shooting by the department’s new ShotSpotter technology, which was used in evaluating the ballistic evidence to determine the teen was randomly shot, according to the news release.

Information on a suspect, or suspects, in the shooting and a motive was not available.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or report it to CrimeStoppers at 888-CRIME-SC or submit an online tip.

Columbia Police Department Chief Skip Holbrook unveils a new system that pinpoints where a shot was fired and immediately sends that warning to officers and dispatchers. Here's how the ShotSpotter Gunshot Detection works.

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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