Police search for ways to curb gun violence

By John W. Goodwin Jr.



The surge in city violence continues with another shooting, and with police meeting to determine the best means of curbing gunplay and violence.

A 39-year-old Rush Circle woman returned home Thursday night to find her 18-year-old son on the front porch bleeding from a gunshot wound to the shoulder. He was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center.

Police found the victim’s car inside a garage at the house with a shattered window, blood in the interior and a bullet hole in the front seat. The victim told officers he did not see who shot him and did not wish to speak to police about the shooting.

The Thursday night shooting came on the heels of three homicides and a shooting that has left a man in critical condition. The recent surge in violence has left the city with a recorded 22 homicides this year, compared with 19 at this time last year.

Police Chief Rod Foley said police had a meeting Friday afternoon to determine what law enforcement can do to stop the violence and gunplay. Foley said more police on the streets likely would not stop the planned “assassinations” seen in recent days, but he said the focus should be to get some of those people off the streets before such attacks take place.

Foley said it is his goal to start making arrests on less serious crimes, such as driving under suspension and petty drug abuse, in an effort to get known criminals off of the streets before they commit a much more serious offense.

Foley said a long-term plan is to initiate some type of program in which young people develop job and social skills. He said the department is looking into developing such a program but admits it is a long way off.

Stephen Cortner, 30, and Shanell Jackson, 23, were found Wednesday shot to death in a residence at 2907 Mahoning Ave. on the West Side. Later that same day, Raymond R’amel Hayes, 20, was shot and killed on the city’s East Side. His body was found by a passer-by at Knapp Street and Gerwig Avenue.

Last weekend, Adam. R. Christian, 23, of Youngstown was found lying on the sidewalk in the rear yard of an East Side apartment complex at 1483 Woodcrest Ave. He had been shot multiple times in the head and neck.

Jawan Knox, 25, of Youngstown was shot near the intersection of Avondale and South avenues about 11:10 p.m. Wednesday. He is listed in critical condition, but sources say he likely will survive the shooting with lasting injuries.

Police Lt. John Kelty said the recent rash of shootings are tied together by a common thread, but police are not quite sure what that thread is. He said there is some level of criminal involvement with each of the recent homicide victims.

“The investigation continues, and we are looking at what ties it all together,” said Kelty. “The common thread here is criminal activity. If you are not involved in criminal activity, your chances of being a victim are substantially less than if you are involved in criminal activity.”

Gail Stark, a South Side property owner and landlord, said the law-abiding citizens in many city neighborhoods are still afraid.

“People are fearful. Many of these people have lived there for 50 or 60 years, and they cannot afford to move,” she said. “They stay in their homes. You don’t see the little old lady out in the neighborhood, but these people are still there.”

Kelty and Foley agreed that help from the community makes it easier to apprehend and convict violent, dangerous individuals.

Kelty said witnesses are more likely to come forward when there is a child involved or a perceived innocent person is harmed, but he said it is important to apprehend all violent criminals.

Anyone with information about these homicides are asked to call Youngstown police at 330-742-8911 or anonymously at 330-746-CLUE.

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