COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Columbus police leadership is addressing violence at Columbus parks after two fatal shootings over this past weekend.
As of now, Columbus police have not named the victims of the shootings.
According to Columbus police, the first shooting happened at Nafzger Park on the 2800 block of Noe Bixby Road in southeast Columbus at approximately 6:10 p.m. Saturday. The second shooting happened about two hours later, at 8:24 p.m., at Saunders Park in the Mount Vernon section of the city.
Columbus Division of Police First Assistant Chief Lashanna Potts and Assistant Chief Gregory Bodker said they’re working to gather evidence in the shootings and will be maintaining a police presence in all the city’s parks.
“We’re coming after you with the full extent of the law — state, local, and federal partners,” Potts said. “We are tired of seeing the senseless gun violence in Columbus and it won’t be tolerated.”
“We are confident that we will recover video, but I’m not going into the specifics of angles or where the video is from or if we recovered that yet,” Bodker said when asked about surveillance video.
So how is the department handling park safety now with warmer weather and more people out and about?
“We don’t have a dedicated parks detail; we did that last summer beginning in late June,” Bodker said. “We started a parks detail with officers on bicycles going into each park and we will eventually utilize that, likely with Safe Streets later in the year.”
Potts said officers aim to check the parks every hour while carrying out their patrol duties, adding that will be a challenge since the department is expected to lose 100 officers due to buyouts.
“We’re looking at how do we put bodies in spaces that matter, and so you’re going to see an increase in parks, you’re going to see an increase in the neighborhoods,” she said.
Potts says officers are committed to making sure the city’s parks are safe.
“They’ve been that way prior to us getting here — they’ve increased their patrol for activity since we’ve been here and so they’re going to do what they can,” she said.
Bodker said the department has received tips from the community on both this weekend’s shootings, urging anyone with any information to contact police (614-645-4545) or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers (614-461-8477).