The Daily Gamecock

Robbery raises safety concerns

Student pistol-whipped while walking home from Five Points

After spending some time with friends at Harper's Restaurant followed by a few drinks at Delaney's, Norris decided to take the short, usually well-traveled route back to his apartment at 1900 Greene St., just a few yards away from the bustle of Five Points.

It was about 1:45 a.m., and Norris was alone, but this was a short and familiar walk back home.

However, just before reaching his front door, he ran into unexpected peril when two strangers advanced on him from behind, one of whom was carrying a gun.

"I don't remember getting hit," Norris said. "I just remember I was walking and then suddenly I was on the ground. I couldn't see what was happening, but they were grabbing at my wallet, and I knew this wasn't good, so I just started yelling for help."

According to the police report, 28-year-old Hakeem Marquis Davis hit Norris in the face with a pistol, while 20-year-old Solomon Zacheriah Smith stuck him with his fists, knocking him to the ground. The two attempted to rob him, but according to Andrew, not five seconds had passed before two Metro Region Columbia police officers, who happened to be on patrol in a parking lot across the street, arrived on the scene and sent the attackers running south down Greene Street, Davis dropping his pistol.

After checking that Norris was OK, the officers were soon joined by USCPD and Columbia police, who immediately set up a perimeter. Within minutes, Davis was caught on the 1800 block of Greene Street, followed shortly by Smith, who was hiding under a car. Both were arrested and charged with attempted armed robbery, and Davis was additionally charged with unlawful carrying of a pistol and possession of a weapon during violent crime.

According to a series of crime reports and press releases from the Columbia Police Department, crimes such as these have been far from uncommon this year, even on supposedly safe and well-traveled routes such as Greene Street. USCPD announced a general increase in criminal activity in the Five Points area this year, some of which may be gang-related. It also issued an ongoing alert for increased vehicle break-ins.

Prior to this semester, Columbia Police had been investigating two shootings resulting in injury, one in May at 2100 Green, a block west of Norris' apartment, and another in June at the 700 block of Harden Street. In September, USCPD responded to reports of gunshots, an armed robbery at the intersection of Pickens and Greene streets and a report of suspicious activity on Heyward Street. In October, police made an arrest for burglary and larceny on Harden, two blocks south of Norris', and launched an investigation for a the murder of a 26-year-old man that occurred just a few blocks north on Walnut Street. This past month, Columbia police have been investigating a series of six armed robberies, one of which occurred at United 4 Corners on Harden.

This semester, USCPD issued a safety bulletin noting that most of these incidents have occurred after 1 a.m., advising students to use extreme caution after this time. They also have advised students against taking shortcuts and travelling alone or in small groups, as most victims of violent crime were reported being either alone or with only a few other people at the time of attack.

Considering the level of crime surrounding his residence, Andrew Norris counts himself lucky for having survived his ordeal with little more than a scraped knee, some bad bruises and a swollen lip. He won't have to testify in court since officers witnessed the assault, and his attackers never even got to his wallet before police arrived on the scene — his back pocket where he had kept it was buttoned shut. He is grateful to the officers who were quick to help him, and said he is now beginning to notice more officers patrolling the Greene Street and the Five Points area (An accurate observation, since Columbia Police recently deployed 35 additional patrol vehicles, according to a recent press conference).

"The police are doing an excellent job," Norris said. "A lot of people think they're hanging around Five Points just trying to get kids in trouble for drinking, but their job is to keep us safe. I feel like they're trying their best to do that."