The fatal shooting of a teenager in a south Columbia neighborhood unnerved its residents — many of them college students — and prompted the lockdown of four schools Wednesday afternoon, two days after the worst shooting in U.S. history, at Virginia Tech.
The 17-year-old victim, who died at University Hospital less than an hour after the shooting from a gunshot wound in the head, was identified as Tedarrian C. Robinson.
Columbia police arrested Lorenzo Ladiner, 20, of 3579 Prescott Drive, and Kristopher M. Prince, 17, 5715 Canaveral Drive, on suspicion of second-degree murder late Wednesday night.
The incident was the result of “an ongoing dispute between two groups of people who knew each other,” Capt. Zim Schwartze said.
Early reports about the incident strained already frayed nerves, especially when MU Police were called to provide extra support at the Providence Road location where the car the victim was in had been stopped by an off-duty policeman.
The incident began at 2:50 p.m. with reports of shots fired in a neighborhood at Grindstone and Bearfield Road, police said. As officers were responding to that call, off-duty police Sgt. Daniel Beckman — driving back from an event at a school — spotted a vehicle speeding north on Providence. The car was tailgating and driving “crazy all over the road,” Schwartze said, apparently trying to rush the victim to the hospital.
Beckman pulled the car over, and the driver jumped out yelling about a shooting and a gunshot, Schwartze said. Beckman drew his weapon but fired no shots, Schwartze said, standard procedure under the circumstances.
Beckman quickly discovered the wounded victim in the car’s front seat and called for an ambulance. Police blocked Providence Road in both directions “to keep people away from there,” Schwartze said.
Meanwhile, acting on a description of a car from which the shots might have been fired, police and Boone County sheriff’s deputies converged on a house at the corner of Bearfield and Prescott, where the vehicle was parked. Four people — two men and two women — were taken in for questioning by police.
Neighbors said they had seen four people get out of a blue car parked on a nearby cul-de-sac and run up to the house and enter through the back door just before police arrived. Robinson lived at 7000 N. Buckingham Square.
Outside the Columbia Police Department headquarters on Walnut Street on Wednesday night, nearly 20 friends gathered awaiting news; some were tearful, others cursing. A box of tissues was left on the front steps.
Glenn Cobbins was shocked and saddened to hear that Robinson, whom Cobbins babysat as a child, had been killed.
“I can’t believe ‘T’ is dead,” Cobbins said in a telephone interview. “I can’t believe he got shot. He was a good kid. The last time I talked to him he was smiling with a couple of his friends. He was a healthy, big fella.”
Cobbins said he will remember Robinson’s bright smile and mild manner. As a teenager, Robinson frequently played basketball and did homework at the Imani Mission Center, where Cobbins is the outreach director. Cobbins said Robinson attended Grant Elementary School but was unsure where he attended high school.
When Robinson was 9 years old, the Columbia Fire Department awarded him a Citizen Lifesaving Award, after he alerted his mother, Cherry, to a fire at the family’s apartment.
The scene at the corner of Bearfield and Prescott Wednesday afternoon was anything but ordinary for the normally quiet duplex community where many college students live. In the hours after the shooting, officers roped off areas of the road as they discovered more shell casings. Some neighbors pulled out lawn chairs to watch the events of the afternoon unfold. Other crawled on top of their roofs to get a better view.
Josh Hake, an MU junior who lives in Bearfield, said he was sitting in his garage playing guitar when he heard the shots. He assumed they were fireworks and ignored them.
“Then I heard sirens, and then a cop just whizzed down Prescott,” he said.
So he went outside to see what was going on.
“This is a college town, a college area,” Hake said. “Gangland violence in Bearfield? I mean, come on.”
Anna Turley, who lives in a duplex two doors down from the house where the four people were taken in for questioning, said her sister heard the shots. “I’m definitely not staying here tonight,” she said.
The incident drew attention to Columbia from media outlets in New York City, St. Louis and Florida. Schwartze said that she’d received a call from New York when it first appeared that the incident might have taken place on or near MU’s campus.
But Schwartze said that police knew right away that “we had a car shooting at another car” and that it was not near campus.
The Columbia Police Department requests that anyone who witnessed the shooting to call the department at 442-6131.
Missourian reporters Matt Wynn and Jennifer Eng contributed to this report.