COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - It has been a little over four months since USC student, Martha Childress, was shot and wounded in Five Points.
The tragic incident left Childress paralyzed, and many who frequent the popular hospitality district on edge.
â??When these have happened in the past, we have definitely taken breaks from going down there and avoided it for a little while,â?? said Gabriele Fitzsimmons, a student at the University of South Carolina. â??You get nervous, could that happen again?â??
Kiara Hare, also a student at USC, says the shooting was really shocking and sheâ??d not gone to Five Points for a while after the fact. This also caused Hare and her friends to seek other avenues for fun such as the Vista.
â??I think Five Points has the connotation of being a college hang out. The Vista you see more adults. I think having it being more that itâ??s adult centered, it seems safer,â?? said Hare.
Days and weeks after the highly profiled shooting, the city of Columbia hosted many public forums to gain insight on how to decrease crime in Five Points.
Elected officials and law enforcement vowed to right the ship and to create a safer environment for everyone planning a trip to the local hang out spot.
â??Weâ??re going back to the basics with community policing and walking the beat, â??said Columbia Interim Police Chief Ruben Santiago. â??But number one was building those partnerships with those communities.â??
Hare says the partnership was long overdue, but has definitely made a safe and positive impact on not only Five Points but all college hotspots.
â??I think Five Points isnâ??t as bad as what people think. We have some bad apples that come out here, but I think thatâ??s no different than the Vista or any other college town,â?? said Hare.
â??I still enjoy it,â?? added Fitzsimmons. â??It might just be that we've been going there for so long it's very familiar.â??
Columbia Interim Police Chief Ruben Santiago says violent crime has decreased by 25% in Columbia, and property crime in Columbia has decreased by 11%.
Santiago adds that if his policemen can keep up this trend, he expects more significant and lower statistics in 2014.
â??Itâ??s a gage of success to hear community members talk about how safe they feel but that goes to being able to communicate effectively and build those partnerships with the community,â?? said Santiago.