COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The increase in crime and recent string of deadly shootings has Columbus residents worried, especially when it comes to local parks like Lakebottom.

A week ago, shots rang out at Lakebottom Park, home of the Peach Little League. Luckily, nobody was struck by the gunfire — but the Midtown community fears the luck will run out.

Residents in the area are taking matters into their own hands following a shooting that was too close to home at the local park.

On Feb. 19, shots rang out as Peach Little League baseball practice was underway. A little league board member says players from ages 5 to 12 are terrified.      

We practice right over here where the shooting happened,” said Peach Little League Board Member, Buford King. “This isn’t the first time it’s happened. But the kids were close by. They were scared. It’s become a real concern about safety at Lakebottom.”

Midtown residents rallied together, offering a $5,000 reward for anyone who comes forward with any information regarding the shooting.

As parents reflect on their childhood memories, they say Lakebottom is not the same place it used to be.

“Midtown used to be known as a safe community,” said King. “This is probably the most utilized park in the city. It’s a community that cares about the city, really. Violence has trickled over into here. You don’t have that safe feeling anymore in Midtown.”

The money that was raised for baseball equipment and field improvements is now being used to hire off duty officers to increase security at Peach Little League games. Their priority is the kids safety.

There will be a meeting on Thursday, March 2 at 6 p.m. at Lakebottom Park to educate the public on the city’s response to the violence. The Director of Crime Prevention, Seth Brown, and Chief Kennedy will address the Peach Little League community and others in town.