The Columbia Police Department is continuing to investigate a shooting in downtown Columbia Saturday night. Shortly after midnight on Saturday morning, three young men were shot near the intersection of 10th Street and Broadway. While the incident has some concerned about the safety of Columbia’s downtown area, a video of the shooting captured by a bystander has sparked a reaction from many residents.
The video was posted to the file sharing website Dropbox with an anonymous letter from someone claiming to be the videographer shortly after the shooting. The video soon went viral, with Facebook and YouTube users posting it online.
It begins by showing a large group of people on 10th Street crossing Broadway, 15 seconds before shots were fired. This left many wondering if the bystander who captured the video was actually involved in the confrontation.
“They need to see who released the video,” said Teri Loesing via KOMU-TV’s Facebook page. “They didn’t flinch or scream- just kept recording.”
But in the letter accompanying the video, the videographer writes that was not the case. He identifies himself as a Columbia native who is married with a family, and says he chose to remain anonymous to protect them. He said he saw a group of between 30 and 40 people crossing Broadway, and immediately pulled out his cellphone to capture video of what he thought was a crowd following or chasing someone.
“Just because I didn’t run, scream, verbalize the thought in my head, or dive behind a car make me party to or have any knowledge about the shooting,” he wrote. “I am quite proud of myself for keeping my mouth shut on this video and for not pursuing a suspect. Unfortunately, I have been shot at before by weak individuals with bad aim like this and didn’t feel the need to take cover but would rather have video evidence to help police.”
Sgt. Joe Bernhard of the Columbia Police Department said police have not been able to reach the person who shot the video, but would appreciate any information he may have.
“The detectives obviously would like to talk to the person who shot the video and anybody else who was in the area who may have witnessed the shooting,” Bernhard said.
As police continue to investigate, some Columbia residents feel less safe downtown. Angel Polston works at Gunther’s Games downtown and was there when the shooting occurred. She witnessed the incident and said she was shocked.
“I hear about shootings all the time in Columbia, but I never thought it’d be in the middle of downtown right across the street from where I worked,” Polston said.
Sgt. Bernhard said the streets of downtown are still safe, and certainly safer than in previous years.
“I believe our downtown area is safer than it was four years ago,” Bernhard said. “Four years ago we created the downtown unit, and it consists of a sergeant and five or six officers who all they do is patrol the downtown area. And if I remember right, the last shooting we had downtown was over two years ago. So I believe our downtown area is safer than it was.”
Columbia police ask anyone with information about the shooting to contact them directly or to call CrimeStoppers at (573) 875-TIPS.
KBIA's Nate Anton contributed to this report.