UPDATE: Aspen Heights party ends in gunfire early Sunday

Sunday, October 6, 2013 | 12:32 p.m. CDT; updated 12:50 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 7, 2013
Shots ended a party at housing complex Aspen Heights early Sunday. Several witnesses said they heard shots as a gun was fired in to the air. No one was injured. Aspen Heights is working closely with police to investigate the incident.

*UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect a Columbia Police Department news release on Sunday afternoon.

**UPDATE: This story has been updated to include a statement from Stuart Watkins, a spokesman for Aspen Heights.

COLUMBIA — A fight outside an Aspen Heights party ended in gunfire early Sunday.

Around 2:30 a.m., a group of men arrived at an Aspen Heights house party in three cars and attempted to rush the door of the house, according to Kevin Casson, an MU sophomore who watched the incident from outside his Aspen Heights unit.

Casson said it appeared as if there were about 15 men in the group and that they were pushed out of the house. The group congregated outside the house, and people from inside the party started exiting and confronting the group on the lawn and in the street. Casson said there looked to be about 60 people altogether.

"They were yelling. People were circling up. I didn't see anyone personally get punched, but it looked like there was a fight about to happen," Casson said.

It was at this point that Casson saw a man in the street raise his arm and fire three shots into the air. Altogether, Casson said he heard five gunshots but didn't know where the other two were aimed.

At that point, the people outside started screaming and running away from the shooter, Casson said.

Casson's report is consistent with the accounts that both Anthony Tovar, who watched the scene from his roommate's window, and Jordyn Dame, who heard the gunshots and screaming from her room, gave the Missourian.

After hearing the gunfire and the sound of police sirens, Dame said she left her house with her roommate to find out what was going on. She saw police swarming the area near where the shots had been fired.

Tovar said the police were carrying what appeared to be assault weapons and that he could see them circle the house where the party had been before they cleared the house of people and searched it.

None of the onlookers saw anyone who appeared to be injured, and the online emergency dispatch log for Columbia and Boone County does not show any ambulances being sent to the Aspen Heights location around the time of the incident.

*Officer Latisha Stroer, a spokeswoman for the Columbia Police Department, sent out the following news release about the incident on Sunday afternoon:

"On 10/6/13 at 2:25 A.M., officers were dispatched to the 3500 block of Aspen Heights, Aspen Heights Parkway, in reference to a large disturbance with shots fired. The investigation revealed there were approximately 20 to 30 people at a party when two unknown subjects attempted to enter the party but were not allowed. The two unknown subjects started being disruptive and as they were leaving fired multiple shots in the air. There were no reported injuries and no reported property damaged in the disturbance/shots fired. There is no suspect information and the investigation is ongoing."

Stroer could not clarify the discrepancy in the number of people at the party or the number of people involved in the incident because she has not had time to talk to the police officers involved but said that more information about the incident should be available on Monday or Tuesday.

**Aspen Heights spokesman Stuart Watkins told the Missourian in an emailed statement Sunday afternoon that the housing complex is working closely with Columbia police to address the incident and that it encourages residents with any information about the shooting to contact police.

This shooting occurred just a day after the last group of Aspen Heights residents moved into the new housing complex, according to KMIZ-TV and KOMU-TV reports.

Anyone with information about the incident can call CrimeStoppers at 573-875-8477.

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