Teen killed in overnight shooting in Columbia mourned as police search for shooters

A high school student was killed Sunday in an overnight shooting, South Carolina officials said.

The Richland County Coroner’s Office identified 16-year-old Julian Armel Keel as the victim, the Columbia Police Department said Monday in a news release. Keel was a rising senior at W.J. Keenan High School and a three-sport athlete, according to the release.

The shooting happened at about 12:30 a.m. in the 1400 block of Colonial Life Boulevard, according to police. That’s near the intersection with Bush River Road, not far from Exit 107 on Interstate 26.

Keel was shot in the parking lot of Roll-Out Wangz, Eggrollz and Thangz bar and restaurant, police said.

Between Saturday night and early Sunday morning, large groups of teenagers were attending a graduation party at the venue, according to police. Officers determined an altercation in the parking lot led to the shooting.

More than 50 rounds were fired from at least four different guns, police said.

Keel was trying to leave when he was shot in the upper body, according to police.

EMS took Keel to an area hospital where he died a short time later, police said.

Officers said they believe Keel was an innocent bystander and was not involved in the initial altercation at the time of the shooting.

Richland 1 School Board Chairman Dr. Aaron Bishop released a statement Monday that confirmed the victim was a Keenan High student.

“It is with profound sadness and heavy hearts that Richland County School District One, and particularly W.J. Keenan High School, is faced with the devastating loss of one of our students to gun violence over the weekend,” Bishop said in the statement. “During this time of immense grief, we extend our deepest condolences to the bereaved family, as we know that there are no words that can adequately express the sorrow we feel. As a community, we stand together in solidarity, offering our support and love to the family, friends, and everyone who is impacted by this senseless act of violence. This tragic event affects us all, and it is a stark reminder of the urgent need to address the pervasive issue of gun violence in our society.”

No other injuries were reported.

There was no word about a shooter or shooters, or anyone else involved in the gunfire. Information about a possible motive for the shooting was not available.

No arrests have been reported, but police have been following leads as they continue to investigate the shooting.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 888-CRIME-SC or submit an online tip. Police have also set up a site where videos and pictures taken at at the party, during the shooting or in the aftermath can be submitted for investigators.

“Information submitted can be kept confidential and will be strictly used for law enforcement purposes,” police said.

Richland 1 will make counselors and support staff available “for anyone needing assistance coping with this devastatingly tragic loss.”

“In times like these, we are reminded of the importance of fostering a spirit of peace and understanding. Let us honor the memory of the young life lost by committing to actions that promote kindness and prevent such tragedies in the future,” Bishop said. “Richland County School District One is committed to supporting our students, staff and families during this tremendously difficult time.”