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Polaris Mall Shooting Likely Involved Juveniles, Columbus Police Say

 This June 14, 2004, file photo shows the main entrance to Polaris Fashion Place, a suburban mall in Columbus, Ohio.
Jay LaPrete
Associated Press
This June 14, 2004, file photo shows the main entrance to Polaris Fashion Place, a suburban mall in Columbus, Ohio.

Columbus Police Sergeant James Fuqua blames an increase in juvenile crime for a shooting at Polaris Fashion Place on Monday afternoon.

“When the information eventually comes out, it will be readily apparent to people that it appears these individuals that are involved aren’t even old enough to possess a firearm at all,” Fuqua said Tuesday.

Police are investigating the second shooting at the Polaris mall in two weeks. Detectives say an argument between two groups of minors ended when one person fired shots inside the mall. No one was injured as a result of the shooting.

Fuqua says the department is currently determining what information to release about the suspects. 

He added that police are only a part of the criminal justice system and cannot solve the issue of juvenile crime alone.

“Too many times, we’re having people released from jail who could have stayed longer if we are prosecuting a little more strenuously, doing less plea bargains,” Fuqua says.

In 2020, the Franklin County Juvenile Court ourt overhauled its operations, completely eliminating probation officer positions. The judges who run the court are in favor of a progressive system that focuses on rehabilitation over punishment, and have pushed back forcefullyagainst Columbus Police leaders' comments on juvenile crime.

Fuqua says he wants to see community leaders, mentors and pastors step in to help when they see children without parental figures get involved in crime.

“We are seeing far too many violent occurrences in our city with young people," Fuqua said. "And we even have the parents of some of these kids who call us directly and say, ‘I can’t control my kids. I need you to do something about it.' So where are the parents? Where are the parents in our community to address taking care of their kids?”

Dispatchers Swamped with Phone Calls

During Monday's shooting at Polaris Mall, Columbus Police say 911 dispatchers were swamped – receiving 106 calls in 10 minutes. Normally, dispathcers receive between 1-4 calls per minute.

Columbus Police Commander Robert Meader said that, because of the diluge of calls, the longest wait time to reach a dispatcher was 2:18.

“When that occurred, we reassigned quickly two additional personnel to phones during that surge,” Meader says.

Most calls in the 3:15-3:25 p.m. timeframe were related to the shooting, but Meader says the Columbus Division of Police does not keep explicit statistics on the subject of each call.

Some calls go directly to Columbus Police, and others to Northwest Regional Communications Center or Delaware County.

Columbus Police are meeting with Polaris Mall officials Tuesday afternoon to discuss safety strategies moving forward. 

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.