Electricity theft triggers homicide on Youngstown's North Side

By ROBERT guttersohn



What began as a dispute over electricity ended Thursday with the city’s sixth homicide of the year.

Police said the suspect, Jasmine Fletcher, 21, shot and killed Munir Blake, 31, both of Lora Avenue, after he tried to cut the power cord she was using to steal electricity from his home.

Police on the scene would not release a description of Fletcher, and as of late Thursday, they were still searching for her.

Police helicopters with spotlights lighting the streets flew over the surrounding neighborhoods searching.

Police said that between 4 and 5 p.m., Blake walked to Fletcher’s home to cut the power source. Police said Blake and Fletcher began arguing.

At some point, Fletcher fired up to 10 rounds into Blake from a handgun, police said.

Police were called to the scene. Nearby, a police Critical Response Team servicing drug warrants responded to the shooting; first reports indicated incorrectly that the shooter was hiding in one of the floors at the Lora Avenue address.

After searching the home, police did not find her.

Lt. John Kelty, of CRT, found Blake dead in the first-floor kitchen.

Kelty said police are checking with relatives and friends of Fletcher for places where she might have fled.

By the time the body was found, neighbors had swarmed around the residences. Some were with the victim’s family.

Police Chaplain Chris Yambar said one of Blake’s four children saw the shooting and was rushed to police headquarters to give a statement.

Yambar was consoling Blake’s wife and children when police took his body from the home.

“It’s the most ridiculous shooting,” he said. “They were just stealing electricity.”

Without elaborating, Yambar said the family told him their father had recently returned to their lives and was providing for them.

“He had an education working on automobiles,” Yambar said, standing before Blake’s home.

“This is typical of our time. The value of life is at an all-time low.”

At this time last year, the city had recorded two homicides. The sixth homicide of 2011 in Youngstown was not recorded until June 18.

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