A Crime Stoppers spokesman said Wednesday the no-snitch movement has reduced the number of tips the service receives.
Martin Siddall said Crime Stoppers has gotten fewer tips in the last few years despite offering cash rewards. He said that and a recent rash of shootings in Columbia spurred Crime Stoppers to offer a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in connection with recent shots-fired calls, especially those that have led to injury.
â??Itâ??s something we need to break through,â?? he said. â??That is very disturbing.â??
Columbia police have responded to at least six shots-fired calls since July 3, when a man was shot at the intersection of Garth Avenue and Oak Street. A few hours later, shots were fired at the intersection of Worley Street and McBaine Avenue. Nobody was hurt in that incident, but bullets hit a car and a house. On the night of July 4-5, a man was shot at Downtown Optimist Park and shots rang out in the 5300 block of Currituck Lane, the same place where shots were fired on June 26. Two women were hit by bullets in a shooting on West Worley Street late on the night of July 5. Most recently, shots were fired on Sanford Avenue.
Fifth Ward councilwoman Laura Nauser, who co-chairs the Mayorâ??s Task Force on Community Violence, said itâ??s hard to pinpoint exactly what caused all of these incidents, but she said her group is aware of two gangs that appear to have an ongoing feud. Police say some of the people they have preliminarily identified in the shootings have gang affiliations. Nauser pointed out more people are out and about during the summer, especially since school is not in session. She said the single biggest complaint police have is the lack of people coming forward with information.
â??I can say with almost certainty that these people know who is shooting at each other. And so, if we have people that will not cooperate with the police department, it is very difficult to apprehend the individuals that are involved in this type of activity,â?? she said.
Siddall said Crime Stoppers does not take down any information about callers, not even a phone number. He said the group is working on ways people can send tips online or via text message, though those methods will not be implemented until the group finds a way to receive them without identifiable information.
Anyone with information about the recent shootings can reach Crime Stoppers at 875-TIPS.