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Columbus park shooting victim discusses incident and recovery; 2 charged

By Michael Van Schoik,


COLUMBUS, Ind. – Two people are now facing charges after a drive-by shooting at a Columbus park last Tuesday night.

Edmarius Oats and Alex Parker, both 18, are charged in connection to the shooting that injured four people. Oats is the suspected shooter and now faces aggravated battery charges. Parker was the driver and now also faces charges for his role in the incident.

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The four victims said they are still in a great bit of pain, but are now thankful to be healing.

“It’s mind-boggling,” said 18-year-old victim Gavin Hardin. “Like, you know what I mean? I’m frustrated every day about it, because just a week ago I could do anything I wanted to do.”

According to court documents, the altercation stemmed back to an argument between Oats and Hardin about a girl both had previously dated. Over an Instagram call, Oats said he was going to shoot him. About 30 minutes after that call, gunfire erupted as Hardin and a group of friends played basketball at a park.

“I happened to be on the phone so I was just like screaming on the phone like, ‘they shot, they shot,'” Hardin described.

Hardin said he immediately worried about his three friends who were also struck by bullets.

“I was screaming,” he said. “Like, ‘hurry up. Help him. Help him. I’m shot. I’m shot.'”

Columbus Police say people need to understand their actions have consequences.

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“The suspects in this case are 18 years old,” said Lt. Matt Harris. “You know, they’ve got their whole life ahead of them and the decisions that they made a little more than a week ago will change their lives forever.”

Harris said he has never seen an incident like this in his 22 years of serving. He said the whole situation is sad.

“It shouldn’t have happened in the first place,” Harris said. “You know, as officers we see altercations and people having disagreements and problems all the time, but to see it escalate to the point where people’s lives were put in extreme danger, it’s disappointing.”

Harris said the park’s basketball court has been quiet in the last several days.

“It’s sad to see that nobody is back here playing basketball right now,” he said. “It’s usually packed full of people.”

Police say it could have been worse and four people could have been killed. Hardin said he agrees and understands he is lucky to be alive.

“Any of us could’ve died out there,” the 18-year-old said. “I mean any of us could’ve got hit in major arteries, lungs or torsos or our face. It could’ve been a lot worse. I mean we could’ve had to undergo major surgeries and could’ve died on the OR table or something.”

Hardin said it should have never come to this and said gun violence is never the solution.

Columbus Police say they have increased patrols lately, including around the park. The department hopes the park fills up again throughout the rest of the summer.

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