An After School Group or Much More?
COLUMBIA - A handful of after school friends or a local group? Community officials are asking the same question when solving the murder of one local boy.
Bryan "Phatman" Rankin was murdered Saturday off of West Sugar Tree Lane. The Columbia teen was shot at a party and taken to Women's and Children's Hospital before going being declared dead at University Hospital.
Rankin's Facebook page shows he assciated himself with a local group, the HCO Boyz. Rankin called himself the CEO of the group.
Columbia Police Department will not say wether the group is an organized gang or just a group of friends from school.
Columbia Public School's Superintendent Chris Belcher said it is difficult to deal with organized violent crime within the school system. He does not believe an entire student population should be lectured about gang activity if only a small number of students is at risk or to blame.
"One of the things we've used a lot of times is our partnership with (community) clubs, like the Boys and Girls Club," Belcher said. "These are the groups that are really on the ground engaging with the kids that they think need to have some extra help, and support to make good decisions."
Belcher said it will take more than a school effort to solve the gang and violent crime problem in Columbia. He hopes the schools and community can come together before another student is murdered or hurt.