S. Side killings loom in stats
Canton, similar in size to Youngstown, had five homicides in 2002.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Last year was a dangerous time to be black on the South Side.
In 2002, the city recorded 33 homicides, more than half on the South Side. The city has a population of 82,026, and the chance of becoming a homicide victim was one out of every 2,485 residents. The per capita rate appears to be the highest statewide.
A look back over the past 10 years shows that Youngstown's homicide rate, though, has dropped 30 percent from 1993, when 47 died.
As with past years, more blacks than whites were killed in 2002.
Of the 33 who died, 27 were black, including three girls and a 48-year-old woman whose cut-up remains were found in trash bags on the East Side.
One white woman and five white men also died violent deaths.
The South Side had 17 homicides; the East Side, eight; the North Side, six; and the West Side, two. The motives range from drug-related and domestic arguments to retaliation and fights.
The statistics, for the most part, reflect blacks involved with drugs, especially on the South Side, said Police Chief Robert E. Bush Jr. Aside from one case of mistaken identity (a 15-year-old girl), the killings didn't involve random targets, he said.
Homicide, Bush said, is not a crime the general population that works or lives in the city has to fear.
Weed & amp; Seed
The South Side toll, he said, is the reason Weed & amp; Seed is there.
The program's goal is to eliminate violent crime and drug trafficking in the target neighborhoods. Weed & amp; Seed also strives to revitalize neighborhoods through cooperative efforts of police, businesses, churches and residents.
Bush said his focus this year is a zero-tolerance policing campaign, a concept that works in New York City.
The chief wants to mobilize resources to "gang-tackle" specific problems, such as drugs and homicides. He wants to work against the availability of firearms, increase patrols and see repeat offenders locked up.
"One is obviously one too many," Bush said of the homicide total. "It's very difficult for police departments to prevent homicides. We're not there when disputes happen, but we investigate every one aggressively."
Bush said the majority of homicides occur between individuals or groups that have some kind of dispute.
Records show that retaliation may account for the deaths of two suspects after the March 14 homicide of 19-year-old Mikal Allah.
Marquell McClain, 21, was found dead in June, shot in the head. Charles A. Green, 24, died in September from bullet wounds to his head, neck and shoulders.
How Canton compares
Canton, closest to Youngstown in population with 80,806, recorded five homicides in 2002, one for every 16,161 residents.
Typically, Canton has 10 to 12 homicides each year, said Canton Capt. James W. Myers.
He appeared somewhat surprised by Youngstown's 33 homicides, saying Canton, like Youngstown, is a blue-collar town. Its largest employer is Aultman Hospital.
Myers said he'd like to think that the "fantastic job" done by his patrol and vice units reduced the number of homicides. "We'll take credit for the soldiers in the field," he said.
He said Canton also has "hard core judges" at the municipal and county levels who don't hand out probation to repeat offenders. "They're very tough," he said.
Bush said he wants to increase the quality of police investigations and "make sure the nuts and bolts are tight," before cases are presented to the courts.
The chief said some cases result in reduced charges because of poor investigations, lack of witnesses or victims unwilling to come forward.
Once a guilty verdict is obtained, the chief said, he wants the criminals in jail, not on probation.
Although 35 victims were found within Youngstown city limits, two are claimed by other jurisdictions.
The body of a man dumped in the lower Bears Den parking lot falls to the jurisdiction of Mill Creek MetroParks Police. The shooting death of a Columbus woman found in the trunk of her husband's burned-out luxury car on the East Side is the jurisdiction of Columbus police.
Trumbull County recorded eight homicides in 2002; Mahoning (excluding Youngstown and Mill Creek MetroParks) had three; Columbiana had three; and Mercer County had one.
Youngstown, meanwhile, ended 2002 with 17 traffic fatalities. In 2001, the city had eight fatal crashes.
Lt. Mark Milstead, head of the accident investigation unit, believes alcohol was the predominant factor. He said the national trend is up when it comes to alcohol-related deaths.