COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Columbus Police and Peachtree Mall are responding to the public's safety following what appears to be a rash of shootings on the property.
The most recent incident happened Sunday afternoon in what started out as an apparent car break-in and ended with gunshots being fired.
"People have to realize a mall is a gathering place just like a lot of things in town. You have colleges where there are large gatherings and you have churches where there are large gatherings. In this particular case, the individuals were there to break into vehicles. Any kind of shopping center where you have a lot of vehicles, you're going to have vehicle break-ins," stated Major J.D. Hawk, Columbus Police Department Patrol Division.
Hawk adds that's why they tell people during the holidays and not just the holidays but everyday, do not leave something in view in your car to make yourself a target for break-ins.
"Just because these occurred at the mall, not all these incidents had something to do with the mall. In the previous incident, there was a situation between two individuals that just happened to take place at the mall and in that same right it could have taken place at a church, a school or anything. That's where the two individuals came together," explained Hawk.
Police said 22-year-old Quatavious Farley came face to face when the owner of a car saw Farley allegedly breaking into his vehicle in the mall parking lot Sunday afternoon.
Hawk said the two got into a short confrontation with the car's owner asking the alleged perpetrator, "What are you doing in my car?" asked the owner. Farley reportedly replied, "I'm not taking anything."
Then things escalated when Farley allegedly tried to run away by jumping into another car or the getaway car driven by a woman. Police say Farley began firing his weapon, striking the owner's car windshield with a bullet and fragments from another round hit an innocent bystander in the leg.
Sunday's shooting is the third gun-related incident to have occurred at the mall since March of this year.
The first bizarre shooting involved suspect Pierre Tolbert who allegedly got angry when a woman refused to give him a ride from the mall because he would not give her any gas money.
Tolbert is accused of pistol whipping the lady and firing his gun, which hit a teen who was sitting in the backseat of the car.
Then on March 26, the day before Easter as the mall was filled with shoppers, shots rang out killing Anthony Meredith outside the food court. Xzavien Jones, Terrell McFarland and Tekoa Young have all been charged in that case.
Farley appeared in Recorder's Court Monday morning. The judge issued bonds totaling more than $100,000 for a slew of charges including three counts of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, burglary, kidnapping and simple battery and driving with a suspended license.
He is being held without bond on a bail jumping charges. Farley is scheduled to appear in Municipal Court tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. on the unrelated bail jumping charge and in State Court June 16 on the traffic citation.
Peachtree Mall's General Manager Onassis Burress, released this statement:
"The safety and well-being of our visitors and employees at Peachtree Mall is our top priority. We work closely with the city and the Columbus police department. We constantly review and evaluate our security procedures to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone who walks through our doors. We generally do not discuss our security measures."