During a press conference Thursday afternoon, Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown, Police Chief Robin Lees and other community leaders gave updates on the investigation into a triple homicide involving an infant.
Lees said they’re making progress in the case with “good, solid leads” and they’re closing in on suspects.
He said it looks like 21-year-old Edward Morris was the target. Police said they believe he had a violent criminal history and a previous arrest record.
Valarcia Blair, 19, and Tariq Morris, 3 months, “were attached to that as a result of being with him,” Lees said.
“This is a situation where we believe that the male was the target of this attack and unfortunately the woman and child were attached to that as a result of being with him,” he said. “It was pretty clearly an ambush.”
Two officers ended up taking the baby to the hospital themselves rather than waiting for an ambulance. The child was on life support before passing away.
“I’ve been there,” Mayor Brown said.
Brown also addressed his city saying he understands what it does to families because he lost loved ones at the hand of violence in Youngstown.
“I always say our children should bury us, we shouldn’t bury our children,” Mayor Brown said.
Police said two guns were involved — an assault rifle and a 9 mm pistol. They think Morris fired at least two shots.
Lees said it looks like Morris was armed and was wary of his circumstances leading up to the attack.
He said the three victims did not live in the area where the crime happened — Gibson Street and Pasadena Avenue — and investigators are working on figuring out why they were there.
Police said they are looking for a person of interest for questioning. He has not been charged with the homicides but is charged in an unrelated crime.
They have not released his name.
Lees also commented on the recent string of murders in the city. Eight homicides have happened in less than a month.
He said it doesn’t look like they’re related but they do have a common thread — drugs.
Lees said none of those cases are closed but they have made progress in each.
While some prayed to end the violence, and for comfort for those grieving families others issued a call to action.
“And then, of course, the escalating violence that happens because of a tragedy like this, the retaliation. We need to stop it now,” said Pastor Ken Simon of New Bethel Baptist Church.
Chief Lees also asked for the communities help.
“We need folks to step forward, provide the information and or any other evidence that they may have or know of,” Lees said.
Chief Lees says investigators have developed several leads and are closing in on suspects.
Police are asking people with information on any of these homicides to step forward and share what they know. You can call Youngstown police at 330-747-7911 or Crimestoppers Youngstown at 330-746-CLUE (2583).