Columbia’s Five Points in focus as USC celebrates homecoming

Gangs have moved into Five Points in the past three years because they can find victims impaired after a night of drinking – not because police have closed clubs elsewhere in the county, Lott said. “Gangs try to control the areas they want to control by violence,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said. “Look at the fear they have created by going into Five Points. They thrive on fear. They’re controlling the emotions down there.”

Vicki Ringer felt safe when she went to Five Points as a University of South Carolina student nearly 30 years ago. But the Lexington mother has held her breath every time her daughter has said she was heading to the off-campus nightlife hub in recent weeks.

Beatings, robberies and gunfire have landed Five Points in the headlines over the past three years. Last month, a USC freshman was paralyzed by a stray bullet while waiting for a cab.

“You never had any of the dangerous element in the 1980s,” Ringer said of Five Points. “It felt like a village connected to USC. It was self-contained. Something of our own little shopping village. I don’t remember anything ever happening that frightened me.”

As USC hosts Homecoming this weekend, current and former students, bars owners, cab drivers and law-enforcement officers agree Five Points – the university’s traditional entertainment district – has changed in recent years.

The reasons that they offer for that change differ.


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