COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Two more overnight shootings early Wednesday have Columbus Police now investigating eight homicides on the sixth day of 2021, after a record-breaking total last year.
But while it may be a new year, there are the same concerns for many community members on the city’s southeast side.
“You always hear about it somewhere else, you don’t ever hear about it, especially in your driveway. It’s just unreal, man. It’s spooky,” admits Jerry Sayre, a Fairwood Avenue homeowner.
Sayre grew up at his home on Fairwood, living there all his life.
But for the first time, it was he and his wife who were shaken by the startling knocks at their front door.
“There was police officers all the way down Fairwood this way, and up here at the light,” Sayre said, pointing up and down his street. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
His neighbors, too, were woken up by the commotion.
“It looked like disco lights coming through my house, all red and blue,” said neighbor Curtis Brown. “That’s when I looked out my window and saw all the activity out there.”
Police had found 43-year-old Malik Amar dead in Sayre’s driveway. A second victim was found in the driver’s seat of a car parked outside the home. Both had been shot.
“I looked to the left and saw that body in my driveway, and I said, ‘Is he dead?’ and he said, ‘Yeah,’ and I said, ‘Oh my God,’” Sayre said of his interaction with the police.
It was just one of two shootings in Columbus Wednesday morning.
A third homicide victim was shot near the Sunoco on East Hudson Street and Joyce Avenue. The deaths now mark eight homicides in the new year.
For neighbors like Brown, who lost his nephew to gun violence, it’s an all-too-familiar loss of life.
“People don’t value life,” he said. “It’s just, pulling a gun, pulling a trigger, it’s like breathing now.”
Fellow neighbor Maudie Grace said she’s called police for suspicious activity on multiple occasions. She now prays for sweeping changes.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Grace said. “Until they really crack down on the lawbreakers, nothing’s going to change in this town.”
And though Sayre and his wife didn’t know the victims outside their home, the community still mourns the loss of two more.
“People have got to stop the hate,” Sayre said. “I’ve never seen so much hate.”
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginither released a statement Wednesday morning in response to the uptick in homicides to start the year.
“There is no denying the number of lives lost to homicide is troubling, but regardless of the number at any given time, we can’t lose sight of the fact that each homicide shatters countless lives. Big cities across America are experiencing an uptick in violence, and Columbus is no exception. There is not a simple solution because there isn’t a single cause. As long as the pandemic continues – and probably after – many will be living on the edge and continue to struggle. That’s why we must continue to prevent violence by not simply focusing on crime, but by addressing the root causes of crime – poverty, addiction and lack of opportunity. Prevention, intervention and education will be critical to turning the tide on violence, and where our efforts will be focused.”Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther
Ohio’s two other largest cities, Cleveland and Cincinnati, each have only one homicide so far this year.