A teenage girl has died, five other young people were injured and two others injured in a mass shooting Saturday night during a musical evening promoted on social media at the Bicentennial Park Amphitheater in downtown Columbus.
Columbus Fire police and medics were called at 11:51 p.m. Saturday for a reported shooting in the park along the Scioto Mile and found a chaotic scene with several people injured.
Olivia Kurtz, 16, pronounced dead at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center
Olivia Kurtz, 16, was rushed to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 1:06 a.m., police said.
Director of the Columbus School on Violence: ‘What is happening in our community must stop
Three women and two men, aged 15 to 19, were injured. The shooting victims were transported to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
A 16-year-old man transported to OSU Wexner underwent surgery and is reported to be in stable condition. A 15-year-old girl, two 19-year-old women and a 19-year-old man who were shot are all expected to recover from their injuries, police said.
Two other youths were hospitalized with non-gunshot wounds as they tried to flee the area.
Dozens of small cones marking bullet casings and evidence covered the scene, steps and surrounding grassy areas at the amphitheater on Sunday morning. A K9 police dog was also at the scene searching for evidence.
Theodore Decker: Six people died in a week, and we are all absolutely in danger
Police said there was no event planned at the park, but the shooting took place during a “private event that was promoted on social media.”
“It looks like someone on social media organized a big party / concert at the amphitheater there,” Deputy Police Chief Tim Becker said.
The event took place after park opening hours, no permits were issued and was not authorized or sanctioned by the city’s parks and recreation department, Becker said.
The organizers “threw something together, even being able to charge entry to get in and concessions and a DJ, we are told,” he said. “When we arrived, all these people had fled with their equipment. They loaded very quickly and left.”
Witnesses gave different accounts of where the shooting broke out and whether people in the crowd fired back, and investigators are unsure how many shooters there were, Becker said.
Many red festive cups could be seen scattered on the steps around the amphitheater on Sunday, apparently abandoned by people fleeing the gunfire. At least one park bench in front of the amphitheater appears to have been knocked over.
Neighbors at Bicentennial Park remember a loud party and call the police
Rick Richards, who lives in the Miranova condominiums across West Main Street opposite Bicentennial Park, said he and his wife started hearing music in the amphitheater around 9:30 p.m.
“The music was getting louder and louder,” Richards said, and around 10 p.m. he, his wife and a few neighbors started calling the Columbus Police non-emergency line about the noise.
“Around 10pm more and more (young people) are coming in, and the scooters are coming in and out of the park and the cars are pulling up on the street and it’s very loud,” Richards said. “The longer it lasts, the more noise it makes, the more people there are. The kids are on social media and see something happening and it feeds more and more people.”
Violence prevention efforts: Ginther unveils list of summer youth programs aimed at reducing violence in Columbus
Richards said he and / or his wife called the police non-emergency number again around 10:30 p.m. and again shortly after 11 p.m.
“Nobody is coming,” Richards said of the police. “The answer from the start is there is a shift change and it’s not a priority call,” he said, but the dispatcher said he was putting it on the list. calls.
Unable to sleep due to the music’s vibrant bass, Richard said he went to his condo’s balcony and watched the large crowd of people in the park. He said he was only on the balcony for a few minutes and was considering calling the police again when gunshots broke out.
“All of a sudden I hear pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,” Richards recalls. “People just started to scatter like crazy.”
This time, Richards called the 911 emergency line to report a shooting. A dispatcher answered right away, he said, and while still on the phone with the dispatcher, a wave of police and medics were answering at the park.
Richards said he believed police could have halted the event from the park and that the shooting may not have happened had they responded to non-emergency calls about crowds and noise earlier.
“If someone (from the police) had come at 10 am, instead of letting 10:30 or 11 am, they could have stopped him with one or two cruisers,” he said.
“Disappointment doesn’t speak well when someone is dead,” Richards said of the police response. “I don’t know what the priorities are. … I think it was absolutely preventable.”
Expeditions editorial committee: Columbus needs a change agent in the front line of the cops
Mayor Ginther and FOP respond to shooting
Columbus Police officials plan to discuss their response to the complaints on Monday, Becker said.
“Normally there are a lot of people around this time in establishments that have a lot of people,” Becker said. “Normally (the officers) would go by and check anywhere that is just on routine patrol, but there aren’t many opportunities to do that on a Saturday at midnight.”
In a statement, Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said the community needs to better protect its children from violence.
“I am saddened and angered by the tragic and senseless death of a young girl and another life lost to gun violence,” said Ginther. “While the police are still trying to figure out what happened, it is clear that as a community we must do better to protect our children. As a father, my heart hurts and I ‘Offer my sincere condolences to the family. Anyone with any information should please call the police. “
Brian Steel, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9, said the Bicentennial Park shooting was “just another example of the complete chaos plaguing our city. At one point in time. , we must all come together, let’s say enough is enough and demand that law and order be restored. Our hearts are with the victims and families affected by violence. “
Detectives are asking anyone with pictures or who was at this event to contact the Columbus Police Homicide Section at (614) 645-4730 or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at (614) 461-8477.
“There must be a lot of video evidence on the phones right now,” Becker said. “We need parents to talk to their children, go through their phones. It is the parents’ right to do that – they are the parents – and to present this evidence so that other children are not subject to gunfire, murder and trauma. “
Bicentennial Park was surrounded by crime scene tapes and remained closed early Sunday afternoon, along with the West Main and Rich Street Bridges.
Cyclists Andy Starr, 52, and his wife, Stephanie Simkovic, 53, of the University District, were riding along the Scioto Trail through the city center when the trip was interrupted by the crime scene tape.
“I just can’t understand how volatile he has become,” Starr said. “… Looks like we’re getting more and more aggressive. You’d think (kids) would just want to have fun.”
“This is insane. I mean, why?” Said Simkovic.
Milestone 229 restaurant, located at the north / northeast end of Bicentennial Park on Civic Center Drive near West Rich Street, did not open for its Sunday brunch at 10 a.m. because the park was closed. An employee who answered the phone said the restaurant was scheduled to be open for its Sunday dinner service from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Lots of youngsters shouldn’t have gone out at all by this time, Becker said. “It’s just a tough challenge,” he said. “It’s really a parental challenge. At some point, it is not necessarily the responsibility of the police, but it is the responsibility of parents to know the whereabouts of their children and to have consequences if these curfews are violated.
Reporters Bill Bush and Bethany Bruner contributed to this report.