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East Side shootout kills man, injures 5



Published: Fri, July 1, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



An 18-year-old man died from a gunshot wound to the back.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A bullet smashed the door 82-year-old Julia Garcia had cracked open for relief from the sweltering heat as she watched late-night Spanish TV.

Garcia's house in the 1300 block of Grandview Avenue was hit when a rolling gunbattle moved through her East Side neighborhood around 11:15 p.m. Wednesday. The elderly woman said she keeps to herself and, while there's occasional gunfire in nearby neighborhoods, this is the first right in front of her house.

Across the street, 18-year-old Deandre B. Edwards of Woodcrest Avenue was mortally wounded. He died at 11:55 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Health Center from a gunshot wound to the back.

Detective Sgts. John Kelty and Ron Rodway are investigating three shooting scenes and five casualties -- the result of two warring factions. Within 3 1/2 hours, shootings took place on South Pearl Street, Grandview Avenue and Oak Street.

The detectives expect to have two arrest warrants today.

Interruption

"I was sitting in this chair, watching my story in Spanish," Garcia said as she opened the door for a reporter Thursday afternoon. "I heard the shots, I closed the door."

She ran upstairs to look outside but didn't see anyone. Her 3-year-old Chihuahua, alarmed by the gunfire, ran and hid in the bedroom.

Garcia shook her fists to demonstrate how the tiny dog had trembled. "She was so scared," she said.

She pointed to where another bullet had shattered a front window. It passed through a mirrored chest close to where she'd been sitting.

Wednesday night, police also found Ruth Slattery, 93, sitting in her kitchen at 1370 Grandview, wincing from the pain of a gunshot wound to her right leg. A spent round from an assault rifle was found on the first floor between the bedroom and kitchen. A shotgun and two spent shells lay in the grass near her driveway.

Next door

As officers secured the crime scene, two women approached to report that the house next door at 1374 Grandview had been shot up, too. Inside, officers found 17-year-old James Christian of Dell Street with a gunshot wound to his right calf. Police described him as a reported runaway.

The women told police that the occupants of four cars were firing at one another on Grandview. They said Christian was hit and they dragged him inside.

The women said Edwards was also hit and taken to St. Elizabeth's in a white car. The driver, Brian Angel, 17, of North Truesdale Avenue, was taken into custody after a check showed the white Oldsmobile Alero had been stolen in Hubbard.

Kelty said Angel faces a charge of receiving stolen property in juvenile court.

While checking both houses at 1370 and 1374 Grandview, police found casings from three different firearms, including an assault rifle. Kelty said Edwards was either in a car or standing near 1374 Grandview when shot.

At another place

Elsewhere on the street, the living room window at 1333 Grandview was shot out, scattering glass but not injuring the 61-year-old resident. Police also found a bullet in the side of the house.

Around 11:30 p.m., police found 43-year-old William Aponte standing by his car on Albert Street, several blocks away from the melee, shot in the head and covered in blood. He had used his cell phone to call 911.

Aponte, of Liberty Road, said he had been on his way to his son's house on South Pearl Street with his nephew and was shot while driving on Grandview. He said they were being followed by a white car.

The shooting victim told police that as he turned onto Grandview three men standing near a beige Oldsmobile in the 1300 block pulled guns and opened fire. At the same time, occupants of the white car opened fire, reports show.

Police said the back window of Aponte's 1992 Mustang convertible had been shot out and several AK-47 assault rifle shells were found in the rear seat area.

Making connections

Lt. Robin Lees said the shootout on Grandview is connected to events earlier Wednesday evening at 220 and 224 South Pearl. He said there's no clear-cut motive, other than two groups and their kin involved in a feud that spiraled out of control.

Lees stressed that the open-air gunfire is not linked to last week's shootout in Rockford Village, an East Side housing project.

The sequence of events began around 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Elias Cruz, 22, stood talking in his yard on South Pearl with Edwin Alvarez, 28, of Boston Avenue. Shots were fired at them from a passing black SUV. Alvarez was hit multiple times. Bullets also hit Cruz's 1998 Infiniti's passenger side window, roof and door.

Other witnesses told police that the front-seat passenger in the SUV hung an assault rifle out of the window and opened fire, hitting two houses.

Pearl hits

Police counted eight bullet holes in 220 South Pearl and nine in 224 South Pearl. Both houses had been shot up before, reports show.

Around 8:15 p.m., someone inside a white Pontiac poked an assault rifle out the front passenger window and fired at 29-year-old Arthur Ford as he stood outside his house in the 1200 block of Oak Street, police said. Ford was not hit. Two more shots were fired as the car sped off.

Kelty said the arrest of Antonio Gibbs, 20, of South Bruce Street on Wednesday night is linked to the shootings. The detective wouldn't elaborate.

Gibbs was arrested on North Garland Avenue, charged with carrying a concealed weapon and illegal possession of a weapon. His bond was set at $25,000 at arraignment Thursday in municipal court.

Edwards, meanwhile, is the city's 15th homicide victim of the year. At this time last year, 11 homicides had been recorded.

meade@vindy.com




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