By Ed Runyan
On the same day two Detroit men were indicted in a Sunday morning murder, city officials addressed a crowd at a restaurant one block from the crime scene — pledging more police patrols and a greater effort to stop drug dealing.
“These events are unacceptable,” Mayor Doug Franklin said of the 10:30 a.m. gunfight in the rear yard of a apartment house on Elm Road that killed Marco Dukes, 32, of Warren and injured his cousin, Larry A. Smith, 29.
“We won’t discuss our tactics, but believe me, you will see a reaction,” Franklin told about 90 people at the Sunrise Inn on East Market Street. “We are taking all steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The men police think committed the killing, Dale A. Hatch, 25, and Derrick D. Peete, 22, were indicted Friday by a Trumbull County grand jury on charges of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, tampering with evidence, felonious assault and other charges.
The charges carry a possible life prison sentence but do not carry specifications calling for the death penalty.
The gunfight involved about 40 shots — one that hit a day care nearby that was closed that morning, others that hit an occupied apartment house. Police arrested Hatch moments after the shooting not far from a church that was having services.
“We are organizing saturation patrols in designated areas,” Franklin said of the police department. “I’ve also talked to state and federal officials.”
Franklin said it’s clear that the city needs to do more to combat drug dealing in the city despite the financial constraints that caused the city to eliminate its narcotics unit in 2009.
Regarding crime in Warren, Franklin said: “There’s one common denominator: drugs. They are the single, largest problem we have. We are trying to find ways to put our drug unit back in place.”
Police believe the murder was drug-related. Hatch, Peete, Dukes and Smith all have criminal records. Some of the convictions are drug-related. Peete was convicted in Detroit and Trumbull County in 2010 on drug-trafficking charges and was indicted on another drug charge this summer.
On Nov. 2, Peete and another man had more than $12,000 cash on them when they were stopped by Warren police.
Franklin tried to reassure his listeners that the people involved in Sunday’s gunfire “have been identified,” adding, “What happened Sunday was an isolated incident. Our town is safe.”
One person asked Police Chief Tim Bowers whether there is anything residents or businesses can do to help police fight crime.
“Since 2009, I’ve been preaching that we can’t do it ourselves,” Bowers said of police. He gave credit to citizens Sunday who helped police apprehend Hatch by telling officers what direction he went.
“Be brave. It takes courage,” Bowers said.
“We can’t be fearful,” Franklin said. “Fear is not our friend. We have to work together.”
The Trumbull County coroner, Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, read statistics showing that drug-related deaths in Trumbull County have increased every year since 2009 — from 46 in 2009 to 59 in 2011 and approaching 70 this year.
He said the majority of the city’s homicides and burglaries are drug-related.