After shooting, residents near Douglass Park afraid to talk

Thursday, April 17, 2008 | 8:17 p.m. CDT; updated 10:52 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

COLUMBIA — Residents living near Douglass Park were hesitant to talk about the shooting that occurred Wednesday night in the park.

One of three men playing dominoes in the park Thursday afternoon put it this way: “We ain’t seen nothing, we don’t know nothing, we don’t want to know,” he said.

None of the three would give his name. All said they didn’t want to talk about what happened.

Columbia Police responded to a report of a fight and shots fired in Douglass Park at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday. The two shooting victims — an 18-year-old man with a leg wound and a 25-year-old man with an ankle wound — arrived at University Hospital on their own. According to Wednesday night’s news release from the police, a large crowd dispersed when police arrived at the park. Police were still looking for the assailant.

A man who answered the door at a house on Fifth Street said he was afraid to talk about the shooting.

“Those kids have guns, and they will retaliate,” the man said. “I’m in my 70s. I can’t be dealing with that kind of thing. I can’t get involved at all.”

Only one resident of the Douglass Park area felt comfortable talking about the recent violence near the park, a 35-year-old who said his first name was Charlie and refused to give his last name.

Charlie lives on Lyon Street, a few blocks away from the park. He said that drugs are a major problem around the park.

“Go up on Worley and you can get any drug you want,” he said.

Charlie said he thinks the incident was drug- or gang-related.

Charlie said he has had problems with drug addiction in the past and knows how drug deals can lead to violence.

“When you’ve played the field long enough, you know how it goes,” he said. “You hear that someone narc’ed, and then they have a hit on them.”

Charlie said he doesn’t want drugs anywhere near his house or his 7-month-old daughter. He also said he does not believe police are doing enough to handle the situation.

“It’s been getting ridiculous,” Charlie said.

Capt. Brad Nelson said the police department has a limited number of officers. He said they could add extra officers to a problem area, but this would leave the officers’ normal areas short-handed.

He would not speculate on whether drugs were involved in the shooting but said police are considering the possibility of gang involvement.

“We’ve actually had a good year until this week, then all of a sudden the dam broke,” Nelson said of the city’s violent crime.

Douglass Park itself had been quiet for the past several months until Wednesday night’s incident, he said.

Nelson attributed the crowd in the park to warmer weather, rather than drug activity.

Police were investigating the shooting. Anyone with information was asked to contact Crimestoppers at 875-TIPS.

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