COLUMBIA- The announcement of the long awaited release of Ryan Ferguson sent excitement through Columbia Tuesday. The national headline case drew close to home for many residents. Fourteen-year resident Gerald Burns remembers exactly where he was when he initially received the news and said he feels like everything has come full circle.
Burns said, "I was over in the Ragtag Cinema cafe when it went down and we were just getting out of a movie and I'll never forget that because it was the saddest thing, because the victim's daughter was at that theater that night, so it was just really sad. To me, justice was served today."
Others who are newer to the area replied to Tuesday's announcement showing annoyance it took this long.
Brittany Robinson said, "If you just don't have enough evidence, there is no reason to put someone away for that long."
Many people claimed the Ryan Ferguson case hit close to home. Audrey Wilcox said, "His girlfriend actually lives in one of my friend's towns in Missouri. I know they have been just corresponding through letters and it's really hard for her. Her Facebook page has "Free Ryan Ferguson." She has been supporting him for a really long time."
Most residents agreed that time is the one thing that Ferguson will never get to get back.
Scottie Willet said, "Nine years of his life gone all because of a mistake the officers made. That could happen to anybody. That could have been me."
Looking forward from Tuesday's announcement, resident Willie Maxwell said the healing process will not be an easy one.
"You never really heal from that or get closure really. I would think at this point, they would be skeptical that Ferguson was the guilty party. Like Ryan Ferguson's dad would be interested in finding out who the real killer is."
The most popular community sentiment seemed to be regardless of Tuesday's announcement, families are still mourning a loss.
"For the family, it's a blessing. I know there is going to be a ripple effect. We have a justice system. It's a time where the community gets together and this is it."