After two shootings in just a matter of hours Tuesday and four victims, one Columbia councilman believes the shootings are gang-related.Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl says Tuesday’s shootings are too similar to one that killed a high school student in April.”Here we are again, a crime is committed, they know what happened and nobody wants to say anything,” said Kespohl.Just months after 17-year-old Bryan Rankin was gunned down on Sugar Tree Lane, more teens were shot on the same street and the gunman is still on the run.”There are gangs in Columbia and they’re doing these things and this was gang-related,” said Kespohl. “I’m convinced it was.”Kespohl says he has been meeting with neighborhood watch groups in the Third Ward regularly since last spring.”I’ve been saying for two years that Columbia’s crime will never get better until the citizens get empowered,” Kespohl said. “We can hire and hire and hire police officers and it’s not going to do any good.”He says the Columbia Police Department is back at full staff after being short nearly a dozen officers but Kespohl is still concerned about 911 staffing and operations.”The city of Columbia is a service organization, we need to provide a service and we need to provide a good service,” Kespohl said. “Sometimes we fall down a little bit and don’t give good service.”Residents in the neighborhood where the shooting happened say there are on edge. One family even told ABC 17 News they are moving out of the area because of the violence.
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