COLUMBIA — Twenty-seven shell casings were found at the scene of a midday shootout in which one person was wounded Wednesday in north Columbia.
Columbia police were dispatched to the scene of the shootout at Texas and Garth avenues shortly after 12:30 p.m. where they located the bullet casings of three different weapons and an abandoned SUV with bullet holes in it. One man was found at the scene of the shooting and has since been arrested, police said.
The police also found a blue Chrysler that was involved in the shooting. It was damaged and abandoned in the 1900 block of Jackson Street.
Coty Thomas Galbreath, 23, who was treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries and released Wednesday, was arrested for unlawful use of a weapon, Sgt. Joe Bernhard said. The police said no other suspect information was available and the investigation is ongoing.
"There were casings all through the intersection (of South Garth Avenue and East Texas Avenue) over the side of the street from (houses) 101 to 107 in the middle of the street," said officer Julie Marty, who was collecting evidence at the scene of the shooting.
Two nearby houses were also damaged, according to the police. One of the homes, owned by Jim Baumgartner at 107 W. Texas Ave., had two bullet holes in the glass of its street-facing windows.
"It sounded like fireworks at first, then two loud bangs, and I heard my glass shatter," Baumgartner said. "The first thing I did was call the cops."
A man, who saw what happened but did not want to be identified for personal safety, said he saw a black SUV pull off to the side of the road near the corner of Garth and Texas avenues.
“Three African Americans piled out of the car, one with a rifle and two with pistols, and started firing to the west,” he said. “We couldn’t see who was returning fire, but these guys were just unloading these guns — very rapid fire.
"No one seemed to get hit. Three guys jumped back in the SUV — the doors of which had been left open and drove off going north on Garth."
Sharon Hamel, who lives across the street from Baumgartner at 106 W. Texas Ave., saw something similar take place, specifically remembering the black SUV and Chrysler sedan.
"I looked out of the window and saw a black SUV with the door open rolling through the intersection on Garth," she said.
Hamel went on to say that the gunfire lasted "quite a while" with most of the shooting happening around the same time.
"It's 12:30 in the afternoon," she said. "Nothing usually happens at this time. I'm just really freaked out."
Police asked that anyone with information about the incident contact the Columbia Police Department or Crime Stoppers at 875-8477.
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