Youngstown's homicides spike

Hilton Street Shooting

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A man identified as Dion Weatherspoon, was found shot to death in the 200 block of Hilton Avenue on the city's South Side late this morning. The incident began right before 11:30 a.m. as a large fight among several males fight that escalated into a shooting. Police arrived on the scene, and found the man shot multiple times. A woman believed to be the man's mother also arrived on the scene.

Staff report


AT THIS TIME LAST YEAR, THE CITY had recorded just five homicides. With Wednesday’s shooting death of Dion Weatherspoon, the city now has tripled that number.

Weatherspoon was acquitted of murder in 2009, and now police are trying to determine who gunned him down in broad daylight in the driveway of a home on Hilton Avenue.

Police were called to 246 Hilton just before 11:30 a.m. Wednesday initially for a large group of males fighting. Before officers could

respond, a second call came in to police saying shots had been fired.

Police arrived at the Hilton address on the South Side to find Weatherspoon, 24, of a different Hilton Avenue address, lying dead in the driveway with multiple gunshot wounds.

He is the city’s 15th homicide victim this year.

A witness at the scene, who did not want to be identified, said she was walking past the house just before the shooting when the group of males began fighting. She said she got her children away from the scene and called police after seeing guns pulled, so she did not see the actual shooting.

Police, immediately after the shooting, searched for a black male who was seen carrying a gun and riding a bicycle from the scene, but no arrest had been made as of Wednesday night. Police Lt. Doug Bobovnik said the department had no suspects.

“There are a lot of people out here, but no one has come forward with any information,” he said late Wednesday afternoon. “If anybody has seen anything, please call the Youngstown Police Department with that information.”

Police did take several people to the police station for questioning.

Shortly after clearing the scene of the shooting, police were called back to the same location about 1:20 p.m. for a fight involving a knife. Police said they were able to gain control of the situation quickly.

A woman living in the neighborhood, who also refused to give her name, said the area has become saturated with drug use and the crimes associated with drug activity. She said the fighting that preceded the shooting has become common in the area.

According to police reports, Weatherspoon was arrested on charges of trafficking and possession of crack cocaine and marijuana in March of this year. He also had open warrants for obstructing official business, aggravated menacing and driving under suspension.

Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office records show Weatherspoon had drug charges in 2010 and 2011. A felony charge of possession of cocaine was pending in common pleas court.

Weatherspoon’s most-notable case was a murder charge in the 2007 shooting death of William Burr outside a pizza shop on South Avenue — mere blocks from the spot where Weatherspoon was killed. A jury acquitted him of that charge in 2009.

The jurors said a key video in the case led to the acquittal.

The video shows Weatherspoon entering the pizzeria, asking for food, being told the shop was closed and leaving the store right before six shots clearly can be heard on the tape. The video, which was played during the trial, didn’t show anyone firing a gun, however.

The jurors determined from the video that Weatherspoon was too far from Burr’s car to have shot him six times through its partially open driver’s-side door window without shattering that window or putting bullet holes in the car.

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