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Shots fired into house just miss occupant

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New details released this week indicate a Nov. 19 shooting incident, in which five bullets were fired into a home near Ninth Street Park, was more serious and potentially more deadly than first believed.

Investigators with the Columbus Police Department now are strongly urging the public to help them ensure a similar incident doesn’t happen again.

On Wednesday, police revealed that one of the five bullets fired at the Eighth Street home came within a few inches of striking a sleeping family member and was later found lodged in a bed headboard, Columbus Police Department spokesman Lt. Matt Myers said.

Officers found .22-caliber shell casings in the street in front of the home, but investigators aren’t sure whether a rifle or a handgun was used, Myers said.

At first, detectives withheld the information about the 6 a.m. incident for what Myers called investigative purposes. The police spokesman expressed concern that releasing full details at that time would have had the potential of intimidating witnesses into silence.

What investigators did not know at the time was that on the day the story was released, the community’s attention would become dominated by a grisly homicide in a westside apartment that killed Cummins engineer Adaobi M. Obih.

For the next several days, the search for prime slaying suspect Ryan Klug drew both local and state attention until the highway engineer’s capture in Galveston, Texas, six days after the killing. But since all occupants in the Eighth Street house escaped injuries, the incident was largely overlooked or forgotten, Myers said.

Lead detective Sgt. Tom Foust thinks that might be a key reason why few people have stepped forward to offer additional information in the case, Myers said, adding that fear might be another reason.

What now concerns investigators is that those responsible for firing five bullets into the occupied home and nearly shooting a family member are still at large, with their identities unknown to police, Myers said.

Both the freedom and anonymity of those responsible increases the chances that another family might be targeted in the future, Myers said.

“You don’t want to be inside as someone fires multiple shots into your home,” Myers said. “Nobody wants to see bullets flying in their neighborhood.”

Detectives do not believe the house shooting was gang-related or that the five-member family was chosen

randomly, Myers said. Instead, detectives suspect the shooting of the house and a nearby truck were some form of retaliation against one of the house occupants. A middle-aged woman and her four grown sons live there, police said.

Although investigators have no suspects, they are following one remaining lead, but it’s not known if that tip will help advance the case, Myers said.

Help from the public is needed before any arrests can be made and potential danger can be eliminated, Myers said.

“Residents need to continue communicating with police to fight crime in this neighborhood,” Myers said. “We’ve seen so much progress and a lot of pride in the Ninth Street Park area this year, but we don’t want (intimidation) to take us four steps back.”

Those who may fear retaliation should know that tips to police can be provided confidentially and anonymously, Myers said.

How to help

Anyone with information on shots being fired Nov. 19 into a home at 1228 Eighth St. are asked to contact lead investigator Detective Sgt. Tom Foust at 376-2642.

Police also are encouraging residents in the Ninth Street Park area to continue to report any suspicious activity as soon as possible by calling police at 376-2600.

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