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Woman charged in shooting that injured 3-month-old shines light on innocent bystander shootings

Columbus police say with an increase in shootings and homicides, more rounds fired means more people at risk, including innocent bystanders.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It was Sunday night when Columbus police say gunfire ripped into a vehicle near the entrance of Nafgzer Park. A woman and 3-month-old boy were injured by gunfire.

Breanna Watkins, 18, is now facing charges.

Just a couple of weeks before that, another child was hurt. A police report shows someone fired several shots into a home, hitting a 7-year-old boy who was sitting on a couch in the living room. His left arm was injured.

“Our patrol officers, I would say, on a daily basis, respond to a house that has been, for lack of a better term, shot up, or gunfire has been shot into that residence,” said Sgt. Joe Albert, public information officer for the Columbus Division of Police.

In fact, in this year alone, Columbus police have taken reports of roughly 600 instances of gunfire striking a home. And those are only the cases where someone was not hit.

But these shootings with unintended targets also can happen on the street. 

Last month, a mother walking with her teenage son was shot in the head. Police say that 17-year-old boy was the intended target. 

In the summer of 2020, at least two other innocent bystanders were shot. A woman was shot outside of a Kroger store, and a pregnant teen was shot, causing her to lose her unborn baby. Police say the man she was walking with at the time was the intended target.

“The fact of the matter is, we’ve seen an unreal amount of shootings in this city, a record-breaking number of shootings in the city this year, or on the path to record-breaking homicides, but definitely an unreal amount of shootings in general,” said Sgt. Albert. “And, the more shootings you have, the better chance there is to have unintended victims or innocent bystanders.”

Sgt. Albert preaches the advice often shared by police – be aware of surroundings, lock doors and windows, and if something feels wrong, leave.

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