Youngstown records first homicide of 2013

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


The city’s first slaying of the year ends a span of more than two months without a homicide.

Police were called to Rosewood Lane, a small dead-end street inside the Rockford Village housing development on the city’s East Side, just after noon Friday when a resident reported hearing a series of gunshots.

When officers arrived at the housing development, they found a man identified as David H. Stokes, 53, lying on the ground outside a burgundy Toyota Camry dead of gunshot wounds. Another man, Matthew Sharp, also was shot at the scene and taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center, where he was listed in stable condition late Friday.

Lt. Douglas Bobovnyik said police do not have much to go on at this time and do not have any suspects.

An alert was put out for a light-skinned black male with facial hair immediately after the shooting, but Bobovnyik said he could not confirm that person as a suspect.

Police also were checking footage from Western Reserve Transit Authority bus station cameras in search of a woman and a burgundy automobile. Bobovnyik said the investigation is in the early stages, and information about the alleged involvement of a female and footage from the bus station cannot be substantiated.

“We have some information that there may be a girl involved, but what the WRTA footage has to do with it we don’t know yet,” he said.

Police Chief Rod Foley confirmed that there were three people at the scene of the shooting. Police spent time after the shooting questioning a third person who was not shot.

Foley said the homicide victim and others at the scene are believed to have been from out of town.

“We are trying to determine how they ended up in that area,” the chief said. “We don’t believe they have family there, but there is not much yet until we talk to a few more people.”

The homicide took place in the same housing development and a short distance from the home where 8-year-old Bryce Linebaugh was shot and killed as he slept in his bed last summer.

Shawn Wilson, 21, of Youngstown pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated murder, improper discharge of a firearm, felonious assault and tampering with evidence in the murder of Bryce. He has received a life prison sentence.

Bobovnyik said the Rockford Village housing development, previously known as Kimmel Brook Homes, is a problem for police, but more quiet now than in years past.

“It’s not as bad as it used to be, but we do have a larger volume of calls from that area,” he said.

Meanwhile, while police continued their investigation into Stokes’ slaying, another man showed up at St. Elizabeth Health Center with gunshot wounds.

The unidentified shooting victim walked into the hospital’s emergency area about 1:45 p.m. Police converged on the hospital and had the vehicle he was driving secured to be tested by the crime lab.

Police received two phone calls about gunfire in the area of Belmont and Alameda avenues on the North Side just before the man showed up at the hospital seeking help.

Police are trying to determine if the two shootings are connected.

Stokes’ homicide ends a more than two-month period of no slayings in the city.

The last time someone was killed was the slaying of 28-year-old Oneil Williams of Pontiac, Mich., on Nov. 20. He was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds to the head, chest and abdomen at a home on Atkinson Avenue on the city’s East Side.

Jamel R. Smith, 20, of Kimmel Street has been charged with murder. He is in the Mahoning County jail and has a hearing Wednesday, where he will ask Judge Maureen Sweeney to reduce his bond.

Police also are investigating the death of a 1-year-old child in December that may be classified as a homicide, but police have not charged anyone in the death.

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