Shooting in Columbia park affects nearby neighborhood

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 | 9:45 p.m. CDT; updated 10:22 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 30, 2012

*Park rangers asked for more of a presence in the parks. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated who asked for the increased presence.

COLUMBIA — Residents of the Tanglewood neighborhood were gathered for a Memorial Day picnic Monday when seven to eight gunshots sounded from the direction of Albert-Oakland Park.

"It sounded like firecrackers," said Christine VanPool, a Lovejoy Lane resident at the picnic.

Paul Penn, another Lovejoy Lane resident, said he recognized the sounds as gunshots and was concerned someone might be injured. He and one other man attending the picnic went toward the park to find out what was going on. There they saw police cars, which had arrived on the scene within minutes.

The shooting the picnic's attendees heard took place in Albert-Oakland Park's parking lot at 5:07 p.m. Monday. According to a police news release, an argument broke out among approximately 15 people. A member of the group, who was reportedly yelling at some of the others, then fired at the group and drove away from the scene. No one was injured, though one parked, empty car was struck by a bullet.

Cedric Barnum, 28, has been identified as a suspect and a warrant request has been submitted for him on suspicion of unlawful use of a weapon, armed criminal action and property damage in the first-degree. His whereabouts are currently unknown.

The event has left some residents of Deer Run Drive, Blue Ridge Road and Lovejoy Lane in unrest.

"I usually feel like I miss this stuff because it’s in the middle of the night, but this is in the middle of the day, across the street, in a park with kids," said Zoe McDermit, who lives across the street from the park. "I feel like (violence) is getting closer and closer to this side of town."

VanPool said she was unsettled by the shooting.

"The sad part is that people will become less friendly," VanPool said. 

Penn has lived in the Tanglewood neighborhood for 25 years and said that there have always been isolated incidents of criminal activity in the area. However, such events have become more regular in the last 3 to 5 years, Penn said.

This has spurred some residents to discuss moving away from the area.

"We’re kind of dismayed that as Columbia’s grown, it's gotten the problems of a larger city," Penn said of himself and his neighbors.

Recent criminal events have not been restricted to any one area, said Public Information Officer Latisha Stroer. There has not necessarily been a trend of violence in the area surrounding Albert-Oakland Park.

"As far as I can remember, it was the first shooting in the park," Mike Hood, director of Columbia Parks and Recreation, said. "I think we feel comfortable that the pool is a family-friendly, safe facility."

However, Hood said park rangers have asked* to have more of a presence in the park, and VanPool said there have been more police cars patrolling the area. Off-duty police officers are hired by the Department of Parks and Recreation to be on hand at the pool, as they have been for several years. The park department staff is in close communication with the police, Hood said.

Park patrons still came to the pool Tuesday afternoon despite Monday's shooting. About 50 cars were in the parking lot, and the pool was busy.

Supervising editor is Ann Elise Taylor.

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