Police determine multiple shots fired Wednesday were gang-related

Thursday, March 17, 2011 | 6:25 p.m. CDT; updated 9:21 a.m. CDT, Friday, March 18, 2011
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Police are investigating reports of possible gang-related gunshots.

COLUMBIA — Three related incidents of shots fired Wednesday afternoon and evening are tied to local gang activity, Sgt. Jill Wieneke, public information officer for the Columbia Police Department, said.

At 4:55 p.m., there were reports of multiple gunshots heard near the area of Worley and Pennant streets. A vehicle was located with gunshot damage, but the owner of the vehicle was not involved, Wieneke said.

Police are looking for Jordan Smith, 17, in connection with the incident, Wieneke said. Smith was described as a black male, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 145 pounds, and driving an older model white pickup truck, according to a news release.

Smith was reported as being armed and dangerous and is wanted on suspicion of discharging a firearm at or from a moving vehicle, Wieneke said. It is unclear if Smith is involved in the other two incidents, she said.

According to the release, shell casings were recovered from the scene of a second report of shots fired at about 6:13 p.m.near Circus and Rogers streets. A man was reported exiting a vehicle and began shooting at an unknown target, but no one was injured, the release stated.

At approximately 8:20 p.m., shots were fired near Aztec Boulevard and Ballenger Lane, according to the release. Witnesses reported seeing a vehicle leaving the scene quickly, Wieneke said.

It has been determined that these incidents are also related to the shots fired on Interstate 70 on Tuesday, the release stated. The victim in that incident, however, is not involved in the gang activity, according to the release.

Wieneke said information from sources and witnesses has helped police fill in the blanks about who is involved, which led the police to gang involvement.

She said it is hard to tell how many or which gangs are involved because the gangs in Columbia are transitory and less organized than larger city gangs.

“We don’t have traditional gangs like you would see on television,” Wieneke said. The police department gains information about gangs in Columbia on a daily basis, she said.

“You don’t see a continuation after someone is put in jail,” said Wieneke, who added that this makes it difficult for police to have consistent knowledge of the gangs and their activities.

She said one of the major goals within the community is to prevent gang activity.

“We are trying to educate parents on how to spot the signs if their child is beginning to hang out with the wrong type of people,” Wieneke said.

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Gary Straub March 18, 2011 | 9:52 a.m.

“We don’t have traditional gangs like you would see on television,” Wieneke said.

I really hope that this is not the attitude of the police dept. These are real people with real guns shooting real bullets. The gang situation here is getting out of hand. I believe it is time to start getting tough before it is too late. Mandatory jail time for any illegal use of a firearm, would be a good start. Bail for arrests of armed criminal action should be high enough so it would be difficult to meet. Perhaps checkpoints for guns scattered around the city, like the so called "sobriety checkpoints". Because, unlike television we can't turn the channel, it is here, it is real and it will only get worse.

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