Gunmen fire 29 bullets at parkgoers in Columbia

Police say they recovered 29 shell casings near the pavilion at Downtown Optimist Park after a shooting Friday night.

The Downtown Optimist Park sat empty Saturday afternoon after two men opened fire at several people sitting under a pavilion there around 7 p.m. Friday evening.

Police say they recovered 29 shell casings from the park, a number that has left longtime neighbors in disbelief.

One resident who insisted on being anonymous said that crime in the neighborhood has increased significantly over the past five years. "There's been robberies, shootings, all kinds of stuff. I am sort of getting sick and tired of it, he said."

Another neighbor said that hearing gunfire at least once a month is a normal thing for his family. "In the first year that I moved here, it was definitely difficult to even wrap my head around," Said Steven Carrel. "But living here for four years, it starts to get normal. It kind of becomes a normal thing. I think that's the thing that freaks me out the most is becoming desensitized to it."

The shooting left one man with non life-threatening injuries. Police say the only suspect information they have is that two black males fired the shots.

Pat Kelley has lived in the neighborhood since 1988 and said it is time for the community to pull together.

"I certainly would urge people to be involved in the neighborhood association," Kelley said. "I would love to see the police department put a focus on community policing, real community policing again."

However, the violence has left many residents fearful to speak out. Carrel said even though most of the residents are peaceful, the risk is too much for him to allow his daughter to play at the park or walk to school by herself.

"What could change to make it safe for her, to make me feel safe? I can't imagine anything to be honest," Carrel said.