Struthers boy, 4, killed in shooting
STRUTHERS — The father of a 4-year-old boy fatally shot in Struthers early Monday asked the suspect to turn himself in to police — and within hours of that plea, the suspect did so.
David Sweeney addressed media Monday afternoon, holding photos of his son, 4-year-old Rowan Sweeney.
“You took my son away from me. This is my baby boy,” Sweeney said, crying. “You took him because you’re sick.”
Sweeney described Rowan as “the sweetest boy” and “the best.”
“Buddy, I’m so sorry,” he said, his voice quivering. “I love you.”
Around 8 p.m Monday, Kimonie Devante Bryant, 24, turned himself in to the U.S. Marshals Service, police Chief Tim Roddy confirmed Monday night.
Bryant is facing one charge of aggravated murder, with more charges likely coming, said Capt. Daniel Mamula. He was transported to the Struthers police Department, then to the Mahoning County jail.
Bryant is expected to be arraigned Friday in Struthers Municipal Court, Mamula said.
Mamula said Bryant has “familiarity” with the victims, but did not disclose more information.
Both Mamula and Roddy praised dispatch and the various agencies working throughout the day.
“It was a blessing how things fell into place,” Mamula said.
The shooting does not appear to be random, Roddy said. “The suspect went to this house specifically to deal with what he had to deal with.”
Rowan died in his
mothmother’s arms, Roddy said during the first of two news conferences Monday.
“We believe he left immediately thereafter, so there’s no immediate threat to anyone in the neighborhood or anyone in the city,” Roddy said.
According to police, the shooting happened just before 2 a.m. Monday at 111 Perry St.
Four adults also were injured, including: Alexis Schneider, 22, of Struthers, the boy’s mother; Cassandra Marsicola, 20, of Campbell, who called 911; Yarnell Green Jr., 30, of Youngstown; and Andre McCoy Jr., 20, of Youngstown.
Roddy confirmed Monday that all four adults were taken to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital. Green and McCoy were in critical condition, while Schneider and Marsicola were in stable condition, he said.
One of the men was shot in the head, and is on a ventilator, while the other was shot twice in the back, Roddy said. The other man is stable but serious, he noted.
The women, who appear to be friends, are scheduled for surgery today, Roddy said.
When first responders arrived, Roddy said that injuries were “very apparent.”
The suspect fled on foot by the time responders arrived, Roddy said, and home surveillance systems from the neighborhood are being reviewed.
Roddy said the suspect entered the house through the front door, where the living room is located. All of the victims were in the same room. The police chief also said Monday that Schneider resides in the house, which is owned by relatives.
On Thursday, first responders answered a call of an overdose at the residence. Roddy said the person fled on foot, but was caught a short time later.
He confirmed later Monday that one of the victims of Monday’s shooting was the person who overdosed last week, but he was not a resident of the house.
Assisting in the investigation are the U.S. Marshals service, BCI, Mahoning County homicide task force, Youngstown and Campbell police departments, and the Mill Creek MetroParks police department.
The property is located close to Yellow Creek Park, and investigators looked through the area and trails, Roddy said. Two cell phones belonging to two of the victims contain “useful” information, Roddy said.
An investigation by BCI at the house is underway, and Roddy explained evidence will be handled by its investigators, as a timeline of events is still trying to be established.
Roddy said as officers canvassed the neighborhood all morning, asking residents what they heard, no one recalled seeing a vehicle.
Struthers Mayor Catherine Cercone Miller said, “The city would like to offer support and condolences for the family and friends of the victims of this tragedy. We have the best safety forces around, from our police department, our firefighters, and our dispatch, I have no doubt this person will be caught and brought to justice.”
The last time a shooting occurred in Struthers was in 2014, Roddy said. A friend shot their friend on Renee Street and within that week, a murder-suicide occurred on Seventh Street.
A little after 2 a.m., neighbor Danielle Vasilchek was watching television when she heard gunfire.
“I heard three shots go off, rapid fire, and then a pause, maybe 10, 15 second pause, then three more shots went off,” she recalled.
Telling her husband who was asleep in the bedroom, Vasilchek said after the gunfire, six ambulances, four police vehicles and two fire trucks arrived on scene, calling it “chaos.”
The shots echoed, Vasilchek said, because of a nearby quarry.
She said the neighborhood is typically quiet.
“We’ve never had anything like this,” said Vasilchek, who has lived there for about 30 years.
She did not know the victims, stating that Schneider and Rowan haven’t lived there long.
Now, Vasilchek said she is uneasy since the suspect is at large.
“I’m scared,” she said. “To know he’s walking the neighborhood, he’s out there… It’s a shame,” Vasilchek said.
Another neighbor, who only identified himself as Eric, citing he is also concerned for the safety of his family, personally knows Schneider’s family.
Eric did not know Rowan, but said the boy’s mother has appeared to be busy with work, but also is “a good girl.”
Recalling the morning’s events, Eric said he wasn’t sure at first why he woke up after 2 a.m. Several hours later, he said he was met with law enforcement knocking on his door, asking to look at his home surveillance systems.
“It’s like watching CSI: Miami,” Eric said of the street, as investigators combed through yards and talked with neighbors to gather information of the shooting.
Eric and his family have lived on Perry Street for 13 years, which he described as “very, very quiet.”
Counselors with the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board are offering support to those who know the victims. The agency can be reached by calling 330-747-2696.