School feud may have sparked prom-night shooting in Austintown


Staff writer

AUSTINTOWN — A prom-night feud may have caused a shooting of an 18-year-old in Austintown about 6 p.m. Friday.

The Austintown police report states an officer first responded to the parking lot near the Austintown Fitch High School fitness center, where they found a young man with a gunshot wound to his upper chest and a corresponding exit wound in his upper back. Police provided some first aid until Lane LifeTrans arrived to take the victim to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital.

The victim and witnesses told police the shooting occurred outside a carport of Le Chateau apartments on Nantucket Drive in Austintown, but the report states that police have been unable to find any evidence at the scene.

Witnesses all said a silver Jeep Cherokee or Grand Cherokee drove twice past the carport where the victim and his friends were parked, before someone in the vehicle shouted something and the victim went to speak to them.

Witnesses said he was out of their line of sight when they heard a gunshot, and then saw the man returning to the car, hunched over. One witness said the man was on his phone with a family member, telling them he’d been shot.

Witnesses said the Jeep contained between three and five males, possibly black, all wearing facial masks.

The report states that police already were on alert about a possible conflict between students from Fitch and Chaney high schools. They were alerted that a prom party hosted by the victim’s older brother, a former Fitch football player, might stir trouble with some Chaney students.

A district official said the victim has not been enrolled at Austintown for more than a year.

When asked why they were parked at the Le Chateau carport, one witness said they were waiting for a friend, whom he said lived there, so they could make plans to play basketball later. However, when pressed again about where that friend lived, the witness pointed in the direction of Central Park West apartments and could not give police a good reason why they were at Le Chateau. Police also spoke to an official at Fitch High School who told them that the friend in question was present at Fitch’s prom in Canfield about 7 p.m.

However, the report states, two other witnesses have effectively corroborated the victim’s friends’ account of where, when and how the shooting occurred.

The report states that police did search the parking lot at The Saxon Club on Meridian Road, where Chaney was holding its prom, and found a silver Jeep Cherokee matching the witnesses’ description. However, police could not identify anything about the vehicle that would have connected it to the shooting.

Detectives at Austintown police have declined to comment on the case, except to say that it remains under investigation.

Have an interesting story? Contact Dan Pompili by email at dpompili@vindy.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribToday.


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