Over the past few weeks, Columbia Police officers have responded to several reports of property damage and injuries from suspects shooting BB guns. The property damage has consisted of car windows, glass storm doors, house windows and more, which can cost several hundred to a couple thousand dollars. The injuries have caused some of the victims to require surgery to remove metal BB pellets.
Columbia Police determined through the initial investigation that these events have been organized by a group of juveniles. Many of the suspects involved have been identified and interviewed by juvenile officers. The extent of the injuries and the property value in some incidents can result in felony charges.
BB or airsoft guns can be unsafe when handled incorrectly or discharged in urban areas. City Ordinance 16-234 prohibits the firing of "any gun, pistol, revolver or any other firearm or air rifle" within the City of Columbia.
"If an officer is responding to a call of shots fired or a person with a gun, they will respond as if the gun is real. When they arrive on the scene, officers won’t initially know if it’s a real gun or if it’s a BB gun, airsoft gun or something other than a real weapon. A split second interaction could escalate if the person with the BB gun points it at officers or bystanders," Interim Police Chief Geoff Jones said. "We urge parents, guardians and community members to be vigilant and if you have a child, family member or young person in your life, please urge them to be responsible. As always, the well-being of our community is our top priority and we ask for your help in keeping our neighborhoods safe."
Anyone with additional information about these incidents is asked to please contact the Columbia Police Department at 573.874.7652 or Crimestoppers at 573.875.TIPS (8477) to remain anonymous.