A 16-year-old boy faces charges in connection to a shooting that took the life of a mother of five and an 11-year-old girl early Sunday.
Columbia police said Monday in a brief news release that the boy has been released to juvenile authorities on two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon. The release said no further information was available.
The shooting in east Columbia injured three people in addition to the two who were killed: Tara L. Knedler, 38, and Ri’ajauhna, 11, both of Columbia. They were pronounced dead after being transported to the hospital after the shooting, Police Chief Geoff Jones said in a Sunday news conference. The 11-year-old’s last name was withheld per the family’s request.
Three other victims — a 40-year-old woman, a 22-year-old man and another woman whose age was unknown — suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Jones said.
Four victims, including the two killed, were found at approximately 12:15 a.m. at the scene of the shooting, on Volunteer Drive and Grace Lane. A fifth victim was later interviewed at police headquarters. There was no known relation between the victims, Jones said.
Two people fired guns at the scene, Jones said at Sunday’s news conference, and the department’s criminal investigation division was evaluating the circumstances around the gunfire.
Jones said that he believed fireworks were being used before the shooting, but confirmation of the exact circumstances were pending. He also said that officers had been on foot patrol and sending letters to landlords for the past two weeks in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred, Jones said.
Officers provided trauma care at the scene, Jones said, and medics were staged outside the scene but did not enter. The severity of the victims’ injuries prompted police to take them to the hospital immediately. Jones said this is the same procedure as if an officer were shot.
Jones and Lt. Matt Stephens spoke with the victims’ families via FaceTime prior to the Sunday news conference, the chief said.
“We owe it to them, to all of these kids who grow up in this community and others to prevent this where we can,” Jones said, “to find other resources, to find justice when we can, whatever that looks like. There’s always going to be work to be done, but to describe it ... it’s indescribable.”