This is not the first time the Youngstown State University community has dealt with the shooting death of a student.
Fifteen years ago today, students and faculty had a memorial service at YSU’s Beeghly Center for Jermaine Hopkins, 21, originally from Miami, Fla.
Services are set for 10 a.m. Saturday in the same place for Jamail Johnson, 25, shot early Sunday at an Indiana Avenue house.
“This is just eerie because it [Johnson shooting] is so similar,” said Detective Sgt. Jose Morales, lead investigator in the Hopkins’ murder 15 years ago.
On Jan. 28, 1996, a Sunday morning, Hopkins a star defensive end for YSU’s football team was gunned down at 107 Park Ave. — less than a block from the most recent shooting.
Hopkins had set a school record in 1994 with 15 sacks. By all accounts, he was a well-liked student who was pursuing a degree in hospitality management.
Witnesses told police shots were fired at Hopkins and another man from a cream-colored Oldsmobile. Hopkins was shot in the head and killed near the door of his home.
In Sunday’s shooting at the house frequented by fraternity members, Johnson was shot in the head and killed. He was scheduled to graduate in May.
Police believe two men fired shots into the house. Eleven others were injured.
Morales remembers the Hopkins shooting well.
He said the altercation started at a campus party, but it was broken up by Hopkins and some others. The party continued, and was then broken up by campus officials. The actual shooting, he said, took place during an after-party at Hopkins’ house.
“Jermaine Hopkins was coming out to see what was going on when he was shot,” Morales said.
Morales emphasized that Hopkins was not an instigator in the 1996 fight.
YSU Police Chief Joh n Gocala and Lt. Mark Adovasio also recall the 1996 shooting and its similarities with the latest crime.
Adovasio said the 1996 altercation started at a dance in The Pub, a bar formerly inside Kilcawley Center on campus. “Someone spilled beer on someone else’s girlfriend,” Gocala said.
Police eventually calmed the dispute and shut down the party, and the attendees left. One of the men, a YSU student, went to a bar and got his friend who had a gun.
The two went to the Park Avenue home where Hopkins and some other students lived, the chief said.
Some occupants of the house came out, the argument continued, and the man with the gun started shooting.
“Jermaine Hopkins was on the porch and he pole-vaulted the banister to tackle him,” Gocala said.
One of the bullets struck the football star in the head.
“Once again it was a good deed,” the chief said of Hopkins trying to stop the gunman.
Police have said Johnson was breaking up the fight at his Indiana Avenue home and ordering those involved to leave.
“You would think people would learn, but they don’t,” Morales said about the gun violence by the accused. “They forget about it, and this is what happens. They don’t think of the consequences.”
Police Chief Jimmy Hughes said lessons from such crimes do not stick in the minds of criminals in the long or short term. He said the recent murders of two South Side Catholic church parishioners at different times is evidence of that.
“They just don’t learn, as evidenced by the [Thomas] Repchic and [Angeline] Fimognari shootings. Those were just a short time ago,” he said.
Police have arrested two men in the Johnson murder — Braylon Rogers, 19, of East Lucius Avenue and Columbus Jones Jr., 22, of Cambridge Avenue. Both men were arraigned Tuesday on 13 felony charges and are jailed without bond.
Police charged two men with the Hopkins murder in 1996 — Eric Moore, 22, of Stiles Avenue, and Timothy Slocum, 22, of Lansdowne Boulevard. Moore was charged with aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder.
Slocum was charged with complicity to aggravated murder and complicity to attempted aggravated murder.
Slocum, according to Vindicator files, was sentenced to 15 years to life on the complicity to aggravated murder charge and 10 to 25 years on the complicity to attempted aggravated murder charge.
Moore, according to files, was sentenced to 20 years to life on the aggravated murder charge and 10 to 25 years on the attempted aggravated murder charge plus six additional years for a gun specification.
Slocum appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, but the court refused to hear the appeal. He was released and placed on parole in April 2008 and released from parole in May 2010.
Moore remains incarcerated at Trumbull Correctional Institution and has his first parole hearing in 2022.
Contributor: Staff writer Denise Dick