Tensions were high at a press conference at Columbia City Hall Wednesday where city leaders gave an update on several shootings. Those tensions could also be felt in the community.
Vernon Forbes lives in the neighborhood where 18-year-old Nadria Wright was shot and killed on Sept. 14. He said he heard the shots.
Police released the name of two suspects in recent shootings Wednesday, including Javion Lawhorn-Wallace, in connection with Wright’s killing.
Forbes said even though police now know who they are searching for, it does not provide him any relief.
“We’re watching the crime rate go up, and go up, and go up, and we’re just catching more criminals. Does that make me happier? No it doesn’t,” he said.
He pointed out several bullet holes in the front of his house.
“Does it make me happy to know they at least know? It’s like, they’re not doing anything to prevent it. The next time it happens, it’ll happen probably, you know. I’d be lucky if I’m not killed,” he said.
Forbes said the city needs to focus on hiring a significant number of officers if it wants to lower the crime rate.
Reverend James Gray attended the conference, and commended the department’s actions.
“The young lady, I eulogized her service for 500 kids, and my officers are sitting there with tears in their eyes,” he said.
“They are doing stuff that we hope and pray that everybody else will do.”
Police Chief Geoff Jones and Mayor Brian Treece mentioned several things the city is doing to address violence. The police department has added nine new positions, but has had trouble filling all of them. Jones also said officers are being trained on customer service.
Treece mentioned job training and mentoring from community businesses as one way to influence people to stray from crime.