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Children find man shot to death on playground in North Side park

YOUNGSTOWN — Children playing in the playground at Crandall Park on the North Side were the first to see the body of a man later determined to have died of multiple gunshot wounds.

The children had gone down a set of metal steps to the large playground down the hill from the pavilion at Crandall Park. They were in the park to attend a graduation party at the pavilion.

One of the children told adults about the man lying between two sets of swing sets, but the adults thought it was probably just someone asleep on the ground, witnesses told The Vindicator at the scene.

Security guard Gene O’Brien of Signal Security of Greater Youngstown, which has the contract to provide security at the park, went down to the playground and determined that the man was deceased about 5 p.m.

O’Brien said he made sure everyone, including the children, stayed away from the scene. He said he believes the children may not have realized what they had seen. The graduation party began about 3:30 p.m.

Police suspect the shooting took place about 2:45 p.m., said Youngstown Police Detective Michael Cox. Multiple people said they heard gunshots, Cox said. A Mahoning County Sheriff’s deputy also working security made the 911 call about the body at 5:17 p.m., Cox said.

There were no suspects as of Saturday night, and police had not identified the dead man. They were asking that the public contact the police department if they have any information. The numbers for Crime Stoppers is 330-746-CLUE, and tips or information can also be called in at 330-746-8YPD. Tips can be left anonymously.

A person who lives not far from Crandall Park and who did not wish to be identified said he or she heard gunshots in the park Saturday afternoon around 2:45 p.m., but did not call 911.

The person said he or she did call 911 early June 11 after hearing a male voice arguing with someone at 12:36 a.m. and then heard gunshots. He or she called 911 and an officer drove past the park shining lights into the park.

Gunshots at night are fairly common, but gunshots during the day are not, the person said. The person said the park is generally very dark at night, but there is some light in the area of the pavilion. The person said security appears to work in the park near the pavilion at night.

The city’s Northside Pool was open Saturday afternoon and evening at the time the body was found. The two locations are about three-quarters of a mile apart. Two festivals also were happening downtown.

Saturday’s homicide is the 11th of the year in the city. The one before that was the shooting death of Keimone L. Black, 29, at the Shell gas station at 1907 South Ave. early June 15. Samuel L. Byrd Jr., 68, was arraigned Tuesday in Youngstown Municipal Court on a murder charge in connection to Black’s death.

erunyan@vindy.com

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