Chief beefs up patrols; $10,000 reward offered
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR. and DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITERS
YOUNGSTOWN — Police and city officials say they want the public to feel secure in the wake of the shooting death of an elderly woman on the South Side.
Angeline Fimognari, 80, was shot in the head in the church parking lot of St. Dominic’s Church, 77 E. Lucius Ave., shortly after leaving Mass about 8:45 a.m. Saturday. Her purse was missing, and police believe she was a victim of robbery turned deadly.
Police Chief Jimmy Hughes said the South Side neighborhood around the church will see an increase in police coverage over the next several days — something that he says will make residents in the area feel more secure and put the pressure on finding the person responsible for the shooting.
But some city officials say it’s impossible to stop violence, particularly crimes as random as Fimognari’s murder.
“Unless there’s a police officer stationed on every square foot of the city, nothing can done to stop all murders,” said Councilman DeMaine Kitchen, D-2nd. “If a person would kill an 80-year-old, who wouldn’t he kill? He stole what little was in her purse, and he killed an innocent woman.”
The murder was so random, Mayor Jay Williams said.
“Can you absolutely stop it with increased patrols and citizen involvement? The answer is probably no. This happens in our country. Unfortunately, it happens too many times in Youngstown, Ohio,” he added.
Making the killing even more disturbing is there wasn’t a sign of a struggle, Hughes said.
“It isn’t a case where an elderly woman wouldn’t give up her purse,” he said. “This isn’t an example of someone who refused to comply” with a criminal’s demands.
The city is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the assailant. The money will come from public and private donations, Williams said.
Call police at (330) 747-7911 through the Crime Stoppers of Greater Youngstown program at (330) 746-CLUE or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some people are unfortunately motivated by money, said Williams and Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th, who lives 10 blocks from the murder scene. Tarpley’s ward includes the church.
Capt. Rod Foley, the police department’s chief of detectives, said the public has been forthcoming with tidbits of information identifying the person responsible for the shooting, but police still have a considerable amount of work to do.
“We are just trying to track down all the information we have over there and develop more leads,” Foley said.
Foley said police are not releasing any information about the investigation and would not say what was recorded on video cameras located outside the church at the time of the shooting.
Hughes said there were four squad cars on the South Side at the time of the shooting, and 16 officers working the streets in the city. He said the four officers are routine for a Saturday morning on the South Side, but police presence will be increased there.
Hughes said he wants the public to rest assured that police are working to catch the person responsible for Fimognari’s death. He has no doubt the department will soon be making an arrest.
“There is no doubt that someone knows who this is, and we will get that information,” he said. “Whoever did this, I can’t believe they could get away without someone knowing who did it.”
Jay Macejko, city prosecutor, wants to make it clear that harboring the person responsible for the crime or withholding information from police would not be a good idea. He said anyone helping the person in any way will be charged with obstruction of justice and could face a prison sentence of one to five years if convicted.
Hughes said the area surrounding the church has not been a hotbed of criminal activity.
“Generally speaking, around St. Dom’s Church, we have not had any reports of anything alarming. I believe this was absolutely a random event,” said Hughes.
But, like other city neighborhoods, that area has been deteriorating over the years, Williams said. “It’s seen crime and blight.”
City officials mentioned one way to combat crime was to get more involved in neighborhood block watches.
But Maggy Lorenzi, who lives near the church, said the Southern Block Watch, which used to meet at St. Dom’s, disbanded about two years ago when she stepped down as its president.
Lorenzi has a long history at the church not only as a longtime parishioner — her three sons were baptized there and she was married twice there — but also as a student at the church’s school, which closed about 15 years ago. Her sons also attended the school.
“The neighborhood started to decline after the school closed,” she said.
Lorenzi said the murder was shocking.
“It’s an 80-year-old woman coming out of the house of God,” she said. “Can you imagine that woman’s last moment with that gun? This murder and the condition of the South Side is heartbreaking.”
This is the city’s fourth homicide this year, compared to one at this time in 2009.
Council members were mixed on whether this murder reinforces Youngstown’s image as a city with a high crime rate.
“It gives us a bad shot in the arm,” said Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st. “We’re going to have to do better.”
Tarpley said, “Any act of violence feeds into the stereotype. It will reflect on the neighborhood poorly if we don’t get the information needed to arrest this person. But I don’t know if you can do anything to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Councilman Paul Drennen, D-5th, said the murder is “shocking” and “appalling.” But it’s not a negative reflection on the city, he said.
Hughes said the department is still looking to the coming ShotSpotter system, a system that identifies the location of gunfire in the city, to help put an end to these types of crimes.
He said the shooting may not have been prevented by using the system, but officers could have responded in seconds — possibly fast enough to catch the shooter running away.
Fimognari had been dead up to an hour before being found, police said.
Fimognari, an East High School graduate, worked 47 years at the McDonald Steel Credit Union, first as a clerk and then as the manager. She donated her time and her money to the St. Vincent DePaul Society.
Her funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Charles Church, 7325 Westview Drive, Boardman.
There are no calling hours. Arrangements are being handled by Thompson Funeral Home.