Residents worry about Five Points safety after violent weekend

Columbia police are lookiing to curb a violent trend in Columbia's Five Points hospitality district.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - After a weekend that included gunfire and two assaults in Columbia's Five Points, Columbia police are addressing safety concerns in the popular entertainment and hospitality district.

The nightspot is developing a black eye after the recent string of violence that has people questioning whether they will spend time there.

"It's a college town, it's where a lot of students come to hang out. It's definitely concerning. It's going to make me stay away, I know, if it continues," said USC student Taylor Foster.

"It used to be more of a good time to come down here and it's gotten so out of control that I don't know who would want to come down here," added USC student Rachel Dangerfield.

However, local officials urge the public that Five Points is still a safe place to be, and they won't let the bad actions of a few destroy a bustling part of Columbia's economic engine.

Columbia police chief Randy Scott is vowing to curb the activity of those people.

"You're going to have people that have a mindset to do wrong and those are the people that we're going to make sure we focus after," said Scott.

A weekend fight that was caught on cell phone video severely injured Josh Bosworth, 23, and conjures up images of the summer 2011 beating of Columbia teen Carter Strange, who was suffered heavy head injuries when a group of young men attacked him. That attack prompted a youth curfew and a similar promise to protect Five Points.

"We don't need one more victim such as Carter in our community. We must stop. Enough is enough," said Scott in late June 2011, surrounded by Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and other elected and community leaders.

But, as for the here and now, police and local officials say they will focus on underage drinking, drinking to excess and an increased police presence in Five Points to hopefully curb what has many worried.

"When you have a city environment whether it's Atlanta or Charlotte, it could've just as easily happened in the Vista or anywhere else in Columbia," said Columbia resident Dave Britt. "I'm not sure what the answer is. Obviously everyone would like to increase safety."

A meeting between Five Points business leaders and Columbia police that was set for this week had to be postponed in the wake of the violent weekend. Organizers needed to find a larger venue to hold the crowd after all the publicity drummed up by this past weekend's activity.

The meeting will now likely be held in the first week of October.

"I feel like I hear something going on every weekend and, as a result, I think people are starting to stay away from it," said Taylor Foster.