5-year-old Salem shooting victim was home sick from school

By Danny Restivo



School officials said a 5-year-old boy who was shot in the head Monday was at home because he was sick.

Cole Reed, a kindergartner at United Local Schools in Hanoverton, did not attend school the day his grandmother and he were shot at their residence on state Route 45, said Superintendent Steve Viscounte.

A United Local third-grader and a sixth-grader living at the home found Melinda Todd, 43, dead, along with Cole, who was severely wounded but alive.

Viscounte said Todd was the legal guardian of all three children, but he couldn’t confirm the exact relationship the two girls had to Todd. He said the school had brought in grief counselors and explained to teachers the latest information about Cole.

“Our teachers are having conversations with kids,” he said.

Viscounte also said the two girls had not returned to school yet, but the district was planning to have a charitable effort for the three students affected.

“It’s a homicide investigation right now, but we’re trying to get as much information about Cole as possible,” he said.

Raymond L. Stone, Columbiana County sheriff, said Cole was speaking Thursday. He said the boy had awakened from a medically induced coma after undergoing brain surgery at Akron Children’s Hospital earlier this week. Stone said two detectives were en route to see him Thursday.

“We’re hoping he can shed some light,” said Stone.

Authorities had interviewed several people of interest, but no suspects had been identified in the shooting. Stone said he had not seen any preliminary findings from a coroner’s report Thursday.

Medical examiners from Summit County, who were performing the autopsy, confirmed they had possession of Todd’s body Wednesday.

Authorities said the two girls found Todd dead and Cole wounded after getting off the school bus about 4 p.m. Monday. Stone said there were no signs of forced entry or burglary; he believes the shooting occurred shortly before the girls returned home.

He said they have interviewed several neighbors and people close to the family, including the victim’s boyfriend. Stone said the man is not a suspect.

Cole’s mother, Miranda Todd, 24, formerly of Salem, was convicted in June of murdering her infant 7-month-old son, Derek A. Dennison.

The child died in July 2010; an autopsy report indicated a pattern of abuse. She is serving 18 years to life in prison.

Stone said Cole’s biological father was incarcerated at the Mahoning County jail at the time of the murder.

Anyone with more information can call the Columbiana County Sheriff’s office at 330-424-7255.

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