Nine boys and girls under the age of 18 were wounded in a shooting at a Columbus, Georgia, gas station – including a 5-year-old boy who was struck by gunfire while there with a family member Friday night, authorities said.
The gunfire broke out when a group of minors attending a nearby party got into an altercation and went over to the Shell gas station’s parking lot shortly after 10 p.m., Columbus Police Chief Freddie Blackmon said Saturday.
Seven boys and two girls sustained non-life-threating injuries in the incident, Blackmon said in a Saturday news conference. Four of those injured have already been released from the hospital, he added.
Blackmon said the oldest person wounded was 17 years old and the youngest was the 5-year-old boy.
It’s unknown what prompted the altercation. Blackmon said there was no indication that the wounded 5-year-old was targeted.
It’s also unclear who opened fire, how many weapons were involved and how many shots were fired.
While some of the witnesses who were at the scene are cooperating with police, others are not, Blackmon said.
Blackmon encouraged parents to get information from their children if they were at the shooting and share it with police. It’s unclear if any of the minors’ parents were at the gas station when shots were fired, he said.
No charges have been announced as of Saturday afternoon and no one has been identified, given the ages of those involved.
Instances like this will not be tolerated, Blackmon said.
“As I always say, it takes our entire community to combat gun violence in our city. Especially when it involves children,” Blackmon said. “It takes our entire village. All of us have a responsibility because instances like this really impacts all of us.”
Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson called the shooting “particularly horrific and particularly troubling” given the ages and numbers of those involved.
“Our prayers are with all of these young people that are injured and certainly all of their families,” Henderson said. “Because even though we are so fortunate and grateful to God that we didn’t have anybody lose their life, it changed a lot of lives that night of those kids and the people charged with taking care of them.”