18-year-old USC student from Greenville shot near Columbia - WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC

18-year-old USC student paralyzed by stray shot near campus

Posted: Updated:
Michael Juan Smith (Photo: Columbia P.D.) Michael Juan Smith (Photo: Columbia P.D.)
  • Most Viewed StoriesMost Viewed StoriesMore>>

  • Siblings charged with incest in truck after watching 'The Notebook' near Savannah

    Siblings charged with incest in truck after watching 'The Notebook' near Savannah

    Thursday, August 28 2014 5:00 PM EDT2014-08-28 21:00:20 GMT
    Buckner and Savoy (images from WSAV)Buckner and Savoy (images from WSAV)
    Siblings from just outside Savannah have been charged with incest after they had sex in a truck near a school just after watching a romance movie, deputies say.The Effingham County Sheriff's Office says 20-year-old Christopher Buckner of Guyton and her half-brother,
    Siblings from just outside Savannah have been charged with incest after they had sex in a truck near a school just after watching a romance movie, deputies say.The Effingham County Sheriff's Office says 20-year-old Christopher Buckner of Guyton and her half-brother,
  • Deputies: Manhunt suspect in custody

    Deputies: Manhunt suspect in custody

    Saturday, August 30 2014 4:36 PM EDT2014-08-30 20:36:17 GMT
    Florence County Sheriff's deputies search a wooded area south of Pamplico near Salem Road.Deputies are looking for person of interest wanted for questioning in the disappearance of a missing person. When investigators approached the person during a traffic stop he fled into the woods.Authorities are not releasing the person of interest's name or description.Count on wbtw.com and News13 to keep you covered as more details become available.
    Florence County Sheriff's deputies search a wooded area south of Pamplico near Salem Road.Deputies are looking for person of interest wanted for questioning in the disappearance of a missing person. When investigators approached the person during a traffic stop he fled into the woods.Authorities are not releasing the person of interest's name or description.Count on wbtw.com and News13 to keep you covered as more details become available.
  • Huge traffic backup after serious crash on I-20

    Huge traffic backup after serious crash on I-20

    Friday, August 29 2014 7:34 PM EDT2014-08-29 23:34:38 GMT
    A major crash on I-20 a few miles west of the I-95 interchange has blocked lanes on Friday afternoon.The crash happened around 4:30 pm about 2 miles west of Exit 131-US 401.Around 5:30, the Darlington County Sheriff posted a Facebook photo that showed a helicopter
    A major crash on I-20 a few miles west of the I-95 interchange has blocked lanes on Friday afternoon.The crash happened around 4:30 pm about 2 miles west of Exit 131-US 401.Around 5:30, the Darlington County Sheriff posted a Facebook photo that showed a helicopter

By Robert Kittle

COLUMBIA, SC -- An 18-year-old USC student from Greenville was shot and critically injured early Sunday morning when she was hit by a stray bullet in Columbia's Five Points area near campus.

According to the victim's uncle, Jim Carpenter, 18-year-old Martha Childress can't move from the hips down, and also suffered damage to her liver and her kidney.

Childress graduated in the spring from a high school in Greenville, where she earned a 4.0 grade-point average. She is now a freshman at USC and a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority.

According to Columbia police, Michael Juan Smith, 20, was arguing with another man Saturday when he pulled out a stolen handgun and fired two shots.

One bullet hit Childress, who is in the hospital and has still managed to thank those who are praying for her.

"Thanks to everyone who's kept me in their constant thoughts and prayers through this difficult time! The support means so much to me!" Childress wrote on her Twitter account.

Columbia Police Chief Ruben Santiago says 20-year-old Juan Smith, who is now jailed on 5 charges, was stopped just seconds after shooting and arrested. The police report says Smith was carrying a gun that had been fired twice.

Chief Santiago says Smith got into an altercation with two men near the Exxon gas station in Five Points, near the iconic fountain. Chief Santiago says Smith pulled out the gun and fired twice.

He didn't hit either man, but one of the bullets hit the female student in her right side. She was with friends near a taxi stand by the fountain, waiting for a cab to take her home. The shooting took place around 2:30 a.m.

A judge denied bond for Smith, so he's still in jail. He's charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. He's also a convicted felon, which means he can't legally have a gun, so he's also charged with possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a violent felony, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, unlawful carrying of a pistol, and possession of a stolen pistol.

Chief Santiago says there are between 10 and 20 officers in Five Points at any given time on weekends, and they heard the gunshots and saw Smith running. The area has an extensive network of security cameras and the shooting was recorded.

"Officer presence has been very successful," he says. "If you notice, we have our officers in brightly colored vests. Our police cars, every chance we get we're trying to turn on our blue lights. We have a very sophisticated camera network down there. You would think all that would deter someone thinking about doing this type of activity, this crime, this malicious, heinous action. But it didn't, and that's one of those things that always concerns me as a police chief, but also our department, to look at strategies."

The University of South Carolina says it's also talking about what it can do to improve student safety in Five Points, which is at the edge of campus and is popular for its many restaurants and bars.

USC spokesman Wes Hickman says, "There's conversations going on right now at senior levels in the university to talk about what can we do next? What more needs to be done? What do we need to call on others to do in order to provide that environment for students?" 

Amy Beth Franks, executive director of the Five Points Association, says the violence in Five Points is frustrating for the merchants there.

"I think that the police are continuously working on efforts to make this as safe as possible," she says. "We've had huge improvements in their patrolling styles. They're walking in groups of two throughout the whole neighborhood."

But that won't prevent all crime. "We can do as much as we can with police patrolling and cameras everywhere, but we aren't going to be able to tell people exactly how to act."

Zip Code Weather!
Get a local weather report and a 10-day forecast by typing in your zip code!
Powered by WorldNow

101 McDonald Court
Myrtle Beach, SC 29588

Telephone: 843.293.1301
Fax: 843.293.1760
Email: news@wbtw.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company