Police seek clues in killing on North Side

By John W. Goodwin Jr.



Police are trying to determine who shot and killed 38-year-old Alfred Griffin on the North Side.

Officers were called to the 2400 block of Fifth Avenue just before 1 a.m. Friday to investigate a disturbance followed by gunfire. When they arrived, Griffin, no address available, was found lying face down partially in the street.

He had been shot multiple times in the back and was dead at the scene.

Officers found four spent shell casings close to Griffin’s body.

Police Chief Rod Foley said the department is looking for a motive in the shooting death.

“That is a quiet neighborhood, and we are trying to figure out why that individual was targeted or if this was just a random act of violence,” he said.

Griffin is Youngstown’s 17th homicide of 2012 compared with seven homicides at this time last year.

Griffin did have an arrest record involving drugs and aggravated menacing.

According to court records, he was convicted of drug trafficking and violating his probation in 2006. He was sentenced to a total of two years in prison on those charges. In 2007, he was convicted of trafficking in cocaine and possession of cocaine. He was sentenced to a year in prison in that case.

Court records also show Griffin faced charges for misdemeanor drug abuse marijuana, misdemeanor possession of drugs and driving under the influence.

Foley said the spike in homicides is baffling, but the department, along with federal law-enforcement officials, are taking steps to rid the city of gang violence. That, he said, should curb overall violence, including murders.

“We really can’t explain it. We are working to reduce the gang footprint in the city, so it’s a conundrum as to why we are having so many [murders] at one time,” he said.

Curtis Moses was shot dead on the city’s South Side exactly one week before Griffin’s murder and nine days before Moses’ murder. Dion Weatherspoon was shot dead on Hilton Avenue a few blocks away from his home.

The detective division, the Mahoning County prosecutor’s office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Mahoning Valley Violent Crimes Task Force all have been working to stop the gang activity, particularly on the South Side. Indictments against four alleged South Side gang members were handed up by a county grand jury Thursday.

O’Keefe Brown, Frankie “Tank” Hudson Jr., Deon Sanders and Ruben Joel “Pilo” Sanchez Jr. are charged with multiple counts of robbery, aggravated robbery with firearm specifications, illegal possession of weapons and participating in a criminal gang.

A total of 16 counts are against each of the men.

Martin Desmond, an assistant county prosecutor, has promised additional indictments against other suspected gang members in the near future.

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