COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Back-to-back shootings in the Short North early Saturday left multiple people injured.
The first shooting took place about 2:30 a.m., Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said, in the 600 block of North High Street. As officers responded, a second shooting broke out several blocks to the south. Officers returned fire, with multiple people being injured.
A citywide officer in trouble was put out in response, according to Brian Steel of the local lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.
A news conference from Columbus police with updates on this shooting and two others around Columbus early Saturday morning can be seen in the player above.
Bryant did not immediately know how many people were hurt, but she said one person was hospitalized in critical condition, with the others expected to recover. As of 9:30 p.m. Saturday, there was still no word from police as to the number of people injured in the shooting.
No police officers were injured.
Columbus police shut down multiple blocks and a heavy presence was seen on North High Street from East Second Avenue to Goodale Street through the heart of the Short North, a commercial and residential neighborhood immediately north of Columbus’ Downtown.
North High Street was closed for nearly 12 hours after the shooting as officials investigated what happened.
Agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation responded. They have an agreement with Columbus police under which they investigate shootings involving city police officers.
Police responded to two other shootings in the overnight hours, including one in South Linden where one person died and four others were injured just after 3:30 a.m. Roughly one hour later, one person was killed in a shooting in south Columbus.
The violent night in Columbus caused plenty of reactions from law enforcement officials, community members, and Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther. “We need the state and federal government to step up, to do their part to keep guns off our streets, and if they don’t have the courage to do that then they at least need to get out of our way and let us do it,” Ginther said.
Ginther is calling for common sense safety laws and asks parents to give their kids a curfew. Bryant said gun laws changed last June and police are now seeing more weapons readily available.
“Officers were here. We had officers around, they were working, they were present. Which is why they were able to respond so quickly, because they were here. So, we need to figure out how we get control of this gun situation,” Bryant said. “How do we get the guns out of their hands? Why is everybody walking around with a weapon?”
Many residents of the Short North woke up to crime tape surrounding their neighborhood. Residents we spoke to say they are concerned with all the violence. Short North resident Patrick Hiznay said he and his fiance sometimes frequent bars and restaurants in the area late at night.
“We do that from time to time. I know down there by Marcella’s is maybe where it happened and that’s a nicer spot, so I mean yeah, I guess we have to be a little more cautious moving forward,” Hiznay said.
Short North resident Jeff Aufdencamp said the violence has been worse with the warmer weather, adding “I just don’t leave my house after midnight. It’s too dangerous.” Aufdencamp says he is also worried about looser gun laws.
“Anyone can carry a gun on the street, it’s not illegal. That’s the way they made it so this is what we deal with,” Aufdencamp said.
Bryant echoed Aufdencamp’s sentiment.
“Obviously, as police, we want to be able to make sure that we make people as safe as possible,” she said. “But when you have a situation where anyone can have a gun, with no checks and balances; what we’re seeing is the guns are readily available.”
Betsy Pandora, executive director of the Short North Alliance, released a statement following the shootings, calling gun violence “a pervasive epidemic.”
“It is unacceptable that our society continues to experience such acts of violence, and we are saddened that we experienced this last night in the Short North,” she said. “As a result of the new precinct boundaries that went into effect a week ago, there was on-duty officer presence and coverage in the Short North alone with the Short North Crime Interdiction team, who all quickly intervened.”