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Columbus Police, FBI Announce $25,000 Reward For Bicentennial Park Shooting

 Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant speaks at Bicentennial Park on Sept. 15, 2021.
Michael Lee
Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant speaks at Bicentennial Park on Sept. 15, 2021.

Columbus Police announced Wednesday afternoon their joint investigation with the FBI and a reward for the deadly mass shooting at Bicentennial Park in May.

The announcement comes months after 16-year-old Olivia Kurtz was shot and killed at Bicentennial Park, with law enforcement yet to make arrests. Five others were injured that night. The FBI is offering a reward up to $25,000 for any information that could lead to those responsible.

Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said she believes out of the hundreds of people at Bicentennial Park the night of the shooting, someone saw what happened and can provide the necessary information.

"We have said multiple times that there needs to be partnerships between the citizens of this great city and the police," Bryant said. "We need the citizens to uphold their end and come forward today with information."

Will Rivers, a special agent in charge of the FBI Cincinnati field office, said any information will help, including photos and videos taken the night of the shooting.

"We're asking that the community to come forward, not because just of the reward, but because it's the right thing to do — to help serve justice for Olivia, and help ensure some sort of closure for her grieving family," he said.

However, Wednesday afternoon's announcement was not the beginning of the FBI's involvement in the case. Columbus Police Deputy Chief Timothy Becker said the FBI has been working with the police for a while in the background as they do with many cases that aren't publicized.

"Towards the start of summer, what could've been a great summer for these young people, one of them didn't leave here that night," Becker said. "Now we're winding down summer, we've been unable to close this case so far despite knowing that there's so many witnesses."

A month after the shooting at Bicentennial Park, which occured during an unpermitted party, another similar shooting occurred at the Far East Community Center, leaving 17-year-old Makenzi Ridley dead. There were also over 100 kids at the park at the time of that shooting.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there have been 149 homicides in the city, 35 involving someone under the age of 21, Bryant said.

Michael Lee joined WOSU in 2021, but was previously an intern at the station in 2018. He is a graduate from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism where he obtained his master's degree, and an alumnus of Ohio State University. Michael has previously worked as an intern at the Columbus Dispatch and most recently, the Chicago Sun-Times.