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Two wounded in central Columbia shooting

Two people are recovering from gunshot wounds following an early morning shooting in central Columbia.

Just after 3 a.m. Saturday, Columbia police were called to the Columbia Senior Center on the Business Loop after reports of shots fired by multiple shooters.

According to the Columbia Senior Activity Center, about 300 people were at the center around that time. The senior center said it often rents out the building for events. And Saturday morning, a party was wrapping up when multiple shots were fired.

The parking lot was full of people, Columbia police said. And a physical disturbance broke out, leading to multiple people firing weapons.

Jan Palmer, the president of the Columbia Senior Center Board of Directors, said she is holding an emergency board meeting Monday to talk about options for additional safety precautions in the future.

“It could be that we don’t have any more parties like this, that we don’t rent to anyone, that parties will end at midnight, an that we’ll have more security on the outside, not just on the inside,” Palmer said. “We might ask the police to do more drive-by through the parking lot.”

Police did not release the names of the two victims, but said a 30-year-old man was shot in the back of the head. And a 27-year-old man was shot in the torso. Both wounds were non-life threatening and the two went to the hospital by car, not by ambulance.

According to police, at least one car was also reported damaged from teh gunfire. Original calls to 911 showed more than 25 shots were heard. Police found several shell casings on the west side of the senior centers parking lot.

Palmer said this is not the first time this has happened on the property.

“We had some shell casings found at the parking lot last year, a few shell casings, and there was shots fired from the motel into our parking lot,” Palmer said.

By the time investigators go to the parking lot Saturday morning, most witnesses had left, police said. The Columbia Senior Activity Center said it is turning over surveillance video to the police.

“You know there’s not much we can do. But our first priority is the safety of our seniors,” Palmer said.

Palmer said she does not believe the people involved in the shooting were attendees of the event at the senior center. She said a security guard pats everyone down before entering the building.

There was no damage to the senior center. Police said investigators are working to find out exactly how many shooters were involved.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Columbia Police Department or Crime Stoppers at 573-875-TIPS to remain anonymous.

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