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‘Put down the guns. Put down the guns.’

2 killed, 4 injured in gunfire

Staff photo / Ed Runyan Mayor Jamael Tito Brown was brought to tears Wednesday during a news conference when talking about the shooting death of a 10-year-old girl on Samuel Avenue on the South Side. At left is city Law Director Jeff Limbian.

CLICK HERE to see video of the Youngstown press conference.

YOUNGSTOWN — “This is a dark day for our community, probably the darkest I’ve ever had as mayor of the city of Youngstown,” Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said Wednesday, tears streaming down his face.

He was talking about a conflict — apparently among adults — that caused the 2:27 a.m. Wednesday shooting death of a 10-year-old girl in her home at 619 Samuel Ave. on the South Side. The Mahoning County Coroner’s Office identified the child as Persayus Davis-May.

Brown suggested the shooting is the result of a feud– like many in the city — in which the parties used guns to retaliate.

During a morning news conference, Brown offered his condolences to the family of the child, and quickly became emotional.

“Nobody is winning, and we’re losing so much more, greater than a feud or disagreement with one another,” he said. “This has to stop. We’re not solving anything. Families are losing loved ones because of gun violence … ”

He added, “This has to be the darkest day for me when now our babies — our babies — are victims of adult feuds. Street justice has proven not to be an answer. Put down the guns. Put down the guns.

“Being a father, it’s heartbreaking. I can’t imagine. Tomorrow morning my son’s headed to school. I can’t imagine him not being able to go to school tomorrow because he’s dead. I ask the question: When is this senseless gun violence going to stop?”

He said there is a reward of up to $10,000 available for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the child’s death.

“We are asking for anyone who knows anything to say something. And don’t tell me you don’t know. Don’t tell me you didn’t see it. If you don’t do it for me, do it for this 10-year-old child who lost her life because we’re having street violence and a feud.”

Police Chief Carl Davis said the girl was in her home, and adults were outside when the shooting took place at 2:27 a.m. Three adults were hit by the gunfire, but all are expected to survive.

He said there appears to be a link between those gunshots and the crash of a pickup into a telephone pole around the same time at South and Palmer avenues, 1.3 miles south of the Samuel Avenue shooting.

The coroner’s office said Michael Callahan, 40, was found dead of gunshot wounds in the pickup truck on Palmer Avenue. He was the driver. A male passenger, 42, also was shot and suffered nonlife-threatening injuries, the Youngstown Police Department said in a news release.

Davis said he would not discuss the link between the two crime scenes but agreed it is possible there was a shootout on Samuel that also involved the men in the pickup truck.

He agreed that the home in the 600 block of Samuel has had a reputation for drug activity and gun play.

Davis got emotional as well when he spoke with reporters.

“How many times do I have to stand here and keep saying this? Enough is enough,” Davis said, sounding much like an angry father scolding his kids.

“This tragedy speaks to the brazenness of those committing these crimes. Gun violence is not a new issue. It is a continuing tragedy that destroys lives, families and communities. When a 10-year-old baby loses her life because these individuals chose to settle their conflicts by shooting a gun into a home, this is going to stop.”

But police responded to gunfire again Wednesday night at the corner of LaClede and Pasadena avenues, also on the South Side, after someone called 911 around 9 p.m. to report two people were shot. A man and woman were taken to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital after officers responded to a second location where the victims drove after being shot, according to police.

No further details were available late Wednesday, but police said they found more than two dozen shell casings at the first crime scene.

As an immediate response to the two homicides, the Youngstown Police Department will have “criminal checkpoints throughout the city,” Davis said, adding: “I am putting you all on notice now.”

When Brown and Davis were asked whether state and federal officials are likely to provide the city with additional resources to combat the violence, Brown said: “This is not just Youngstown. They are getting the same request from everybody across the state of Ohio.”

He did mention, however, that he hopes the state crime lab can return ballistics evidence more quickly.

For Youngstown, the two homicides make 20 for the year so far. The city had 28 in 2020.

Pastor Kenneth Simon of New Bethel Baptist Church attended the news conference, calling the city’s violence a “war.” He said he and others who participate in marches and other events in the city’s Stop The Violence campaign are “in it for the long haul. It’s going to take a sustained effort, and it is a community problem. It is not a police problem. It is not the mayor’s problem. It’s all of our problem.

“And the community has to get involved at a greater level. People who know information need to come forth and we need to solve this issue together. We’re going to continue to our prayer walks. We’re going to continue to do our mentoring training, our mediation training and send our message out to the community that we want this violence to stop.”

He added: “This ought to be a pivotal point for all of us. This ought to send a message to all of us how serious this is and how we have to make a sacrifice, whatever sacrifice it takes for all of us to get involved and be part of the solution.”

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