COLUMBIA – In the nearly two months since the Columbia Downtown Leadership Council met to provide an update on downtown safety, the City of Columbia is still awaiting the additional safety measures planned by the advice.
“Otherwise, we’re still waiting for the city to install the permanent lights we paid for in 2021,” said Nickie Davis, executive director of The District. “The city says it could take six to eight months.”
Davis said there haven’t been many updates since the last meeting regarding the addition of cameras outside of downtown businesses.
From late February to April 18, the Columbia Police Dispatch recorded 25 cases of gunshots being fired in Colombia. Three were reported in the city center.
With a weekend of filming downtown early Sunday morning, some Columbians are still concerned about safety in the area.
Anthony Sobolevsky, a Columbia College senior, witnessed the shooting Sunday morning as he was walking home. He said he saw a group of people outside Boone Olive Oil Co. on Ninth and Cherry streets. He said he got around them, then things started to get worse.
“Then the guy right next to me, less than a meter away, said ‘You don’t want to laugh at me, you fool’ and immediately pulled out a gun,” Sobolevsky said. “I was right behind him and I saw the color of it, it was a green gun, he had a laser sight, he was pointing it, I don’t know directly who’s coming from the crowd, and the next thing I know, I hear two loud gunshots and so I immediately rushed [the] street.”
Soblevsky said he was shocked to be so close to the incident when it happened. He said he thought the area could benefit from even more security measures.
“I’m thinking of including more cameras and maybe having more officers on the lookout, especially all night, just on the lookout in bars,” Sobolevsky said. “People could be intoxicated and it could have made things worse faster.”
The shooting happened outside Boone Olive Oil Co., and although the store was not open at the time of the shooting, an employee said he was very aware of the security issues associated with the center -city.
“It’s concerning, especially on a busy weekend like Easter Sunday. There are a lot of customers. It could also happen during the day, luckily it doesn’t,” said Abdullah Alsharafi, salesman. at Boone Olive Oil Co.
Alsharafi said the store has emergency contacts with Columbia police to call if there is a problem.
“Overall, the community is in touch with each other,” Alsharafi said.
Alsharafi said he felt mostly safe in the area, but he thinks it would be good to have more patrols downtown.
“Having more police downtown would be good, even at night,” Alsharafi said. “I know sometimes it gets a bit rowdy at night. Our store isn’t open that late, so it doesn’t really affect us, but it would be just for general safety.”
Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones also attended the downtown safety meeting in February. At the time, he said the main aim was to increase police presence when the bars opened.
When KOMU 8 spoke to the department on Monday morning, they said there were more officers whenever there was potential for larger gatherings of people downtown to help promote public safety and reduce the risk of incidents.