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Did lack of patrols contribute to killing?



Published: Fri, January 21, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Robert Parker, charged with murder, is to be arraigned today.

YOUNGSTOWN -- The killing of a 17-year-old in a drug house Wednesday may have been prevented if the city had enough police officers to staff patrols on Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority property, a union president says.

"If YMHA property was patrolled on a constant basis, the drug house would have been shut down," patrolman Kevin Bokesch, president of the Youngstown Police Association president, said Thursday.

"That homicide could possibly have been prevented."

Zymond Bellard, 17, of Eastway Drive was shot to death around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday inside an apartment at 930 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Mortally wounded, Bellard fired his own 40-caliber gun as two suspects fled the apartment, according to police.

Suspect arrested

Robert Parker, 24, whose last known address was Winona Avenue, was arrested shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday on North Hine Street by members of the Street Crimes Unit. Parker, known as "Dirty Bert," is expected to be arraigned today in municipal court.

Detective Sgts. John Kelty and Brad Blackburn had developed leads and obtained a warrant for Parker.

Lt. Robin Lees said Bellard, whose surname was incorrectly listed on reports as Butler, was a suspect in a variety of crimes, including theft and burglary. Lees said he may have more on the motive today.

The YMHA property, known as Westlake Terrace Homes, is frequently the site of drug arrests. Members of the Street Crimes Unit often arrest out-of-towners looking for crack cocaine or marijuana.

Rules for drug house

Capt. Robert Kane, chief of detectives, said authorities found a piece of paper inside the Westlake apartment with rules for the drug house. He said the rules included "no disrespecting" and "nothing less than a $5 bag."

Like Bokesch, Police Chief Robert E. Bush Jr. said he was upset by the Bellard homicide and the inability to hire police to staff a YMHA patrol. The chief said Westlake has been an area of concentration by YMHA patrols in the past, but a shortage of cops meant most of a $200,000 YMHA grant for 2004 was not used and the $200,000 grant for 2005 is on hold.

Eugenia Atkinson, YMHA director, she wants the grant to be used because she wants the properties safe for the residents. If the balance of the 2004 grant is not used by June, it will go back to HUD and the 2005 grant will be reviewed before being awarded.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant, which pays for extraordinary -- not routine -- police service, requires the same officers be assigned to patrol YMHA properties, especially Westlake. Instead of hiring cops, Finance Director David Bozanich has suggested letting Mahoning County deputy sheriffs take over the YMHA grant, something Bokesch said "doesn't make sense."

A second killing

About four hours after Bellard was killed, Clyde C. White, 31, of Idlewood Avenue was shot to death at 2822 Mary St. on the South Side. A man who lives there, along with a female friend, a 17-year-old girl and her infant son (all of whom live elsewhere) said they were in bed at 11:30 p.m. when the shooting took place.

White, who was in the front part of the house, ran into the male resident's bedroom yelling that he'd been shot and asked that 911 be called. The teenage mother told police she heard a thud, as if someone fell, then three shots and a commotion.

No suspects

Police said they had no suspects as of Thursday evening.

Lees said there have been drug complaints about the house on Mary Street. He said White's criminal background includes marijuana, receiving stolen property and loud music charges.

Bellard and White are the city's first and second homicides of the year. Last year at this time, the city had four homicides, the first being a triple murder Jan. 15.




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