Family of Martha Childress calling for tighter security measures - FOX Carolina 21

Martha Childress' family calling for tighter security measures at Five Points

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COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) -

The family of a Greenville County teen who was shot and paralyzed by a stray bullet last week is asking Columbia city leaders to take a closer look at safety measures at Five Points near the University of South Carolina.

Martha Childress, 18, is now paralyzed after Columbia police said 20-year-old Michael Juan Smith allegedly pulled out a gun during an argument and fired it near where she was standing waiting for a taxi. The bullet struck her on the right side, severely damaging her spine.

She was moved to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta on Monday to undergo rehabilitation, but doctors said it is unlikely she will walk again.

"She is a fighter," her stepfather, Ron Johnson, told the media during a news conference at Five Points Monday. "Like you, we want to make sure that once again Five Points can once again be restored to what we all think that it should be."

He was surrounded by Childress' classmates and sorority sisters, some of whom said they are now afraid to go to the area, which is frequented by students from USC and other colleges in Columbia.

"We've been meeting with the mayor, meeting with our representatives and telling them that we need some serious attention," says Amy Beth Franks, director of the Five Points Association. "They've definitely changed their policing style ... but we've got a long way to go."

The family introduced what they call "Martha's List," nine suggestions highlighting areas they feel should be improved at Five Points. 

Those include more police cooperation and less political and territorial rivalry between law enforcement agencies as well as detection dogs, surveillance cameras, more trust between law enforcement and youth, a new shuttle service for students, more civil nuisance actions to crack down on people loitering, more fast track prosecutions and improvements in the bond process. The family is also asking that local businesses enforce a stricter dress code.

Students at USC held an on-campus forum, discussing ways to prevent this tragedy. Many students said people loitering is the main concern, and there needs to be a way to get the people who have no business at Five Points off the streets.

Those wishing to donate to the Childress family can visit www.PrayforMartha.com.

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