There’s a hole in Steve Mitchell’s front door from the bullet that almost killed him.
Around 9:30 p.m. Monday, two passing cars opened fire at the intersection in front of the house where he lives with his wife, Satina Shields, and their son, Kahree, according to residents.
This is the reality that Columbia residents are reckoning with: a wave of gun violence that’s turning domestic scenes into life-and-death scenarios.
Five people have died in shootings this month — the same number that died in all of 2018.
It’s the highest number of homicides in Columbia in a single month since at least 2001, the earliest year for which crime data is accessible through the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Police closed Rice Road at McKee Street on Monday night after shots were fired, hitting nearby houses, including Mitchell and Shields’ current residence. Police found evidence of 17 shots fired.
Mitchell and his cousin were walking outside to smoke a cigarette while Shields ran next door for a cup of rice. Kahree was standing in the doorway before Mitchell sent him upstairs to watch TV.
When gunfire broke out, Mitchell dropped to the floor, seeking cover. The bullet just missed his eye; had it passed an inch closer, it could have killed him, Mitchell said.
The bullet passed through the door where Kahree had been standing seconds before.
Outside, Shields hid behind a parked car and curled into a ball until the shooting stopped. They have lived in the neighborhood for a month and a half.
Two other neighbors offered similar stories Tuesday. Both had moved to the neighborhood just months earlier; their lives have been disturbed by multiple shootings they have no explanation for. They are ready to leave.
The 17 shots fired came on the heels of a double homicide that occurred at the same intersection early Sunday morning. Antonio Lasha Houston, 36, and Danielle Beverly-Mae Marine, 33, were found dead on the lawn of a home near Rice Road and McKee Street.
“I’m moving,” Shields said. The killings were “too close to home, when we watched them die over there.”
Residents are fearful for their children’s safety. The school bus stops every morning at the corner where the shooting occurred, Shields said. Many neighborhood kids play outside after school, but parents have started sending them to their backyards to keep them safe, she said.
This month’s spate of fatal gun violence began Sept. 13, just before midnight, when two people were found with gunshot wounds near Forest and Grand avenues: Sam Baldwin IV, 28, and Nadria Wright, 18, both of Columbia. Both had life-threatening injuries.
Wright, an ambitious Columbia College student, was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Just a few hours later, police responded to another report of shots fired near Fifth Street and Park Avenue, a half-mile away. Officers were told that E’quan Spain, 19, of Columbia had been shot and taken to a local hospital. Spain was later pronounced dead.
Four days later, Kejuane Johnson, 23, was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound on James Dale Road.
Columbia Police Officer Matt Gremore said Thursday at a vigil for Wright: “In my 11 years, I’ve never seen anything like this weekend. We need to come together.”
That was the plea in the police department’s response to questions Tuesday about the recent violence. In an emailed response to questions from the Missourian, city spokesman Steve Sapp said on behalf of Chief Geoff Jones that the problem is a community issue. “CPD cannot tackle this issue alone. Our community must work together to address this violence. I continually ask our community members to have the courage to speak up and help.”