CPD Chief Ruben Santiago: ‘We want to prevent crime’

Police likely won’t increase Five Points presence this weekend

Interim Columbia Police Chief Ruben Santiago said Monday he did not believe there was anything officers in Five Points could have done differently to prevent the shooting early Sunday morning that left first-year business student Martha Childress, 18, in critical condition after being struck by a stray bullet.

“I look at what actions did our officers take and was there something more that we could do. And I can’t say that there was in this case,” Santiago said.

He also said he is not currently planning to increase the number of officers in the popular bar district this weekend in response to the shooting, though increased police visibility is one of his strategies for actively preventing crimes.

“The Columbia Police Department is very good at putting people in jail for crimes that have been committed,” Santiago said. “But that’s the crimes that have already been committed. That person will be a victim always. So what successes are we really talking about just because I put someone in jail? We want to prevent crime.”

The suspect in the shooting, 20-year-old Michael Juan Smith, faces six charges, including aggravated assault and battery, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, possession of a stolen weapon and violation of probation. He was denied bail Monday morning.

Santiago said police have no current information to indicate Sunday’s violence was gang-related.


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