YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — As detectives grapple with a large and complex crime scene after a series of shootings early Sunday morning outside a Salt Springs Road club that killed three and injured three others, call takers in the city’s 911 center were dealing with confusion of their own.
The call takers fielded several calls from people at the scene who were screaming and at times incoherent. Some had no idea where they were. One caller told police he was at the shuttered All City Sports Bar on Mahoning Avenue — which was boarded up in September after it was declared a nuisance.
A woman, who was at a friend’s house, heard several shots and said “there’s bullets flying everywhere,” but she said she had no idea where she was at.
And troopers from the Canfield Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, who were working an accident at Interstate 680 and state Route 711, had one of their dispatchers call the city to inform them they were hearing gunfire.
Police did make one gun arrest shortly after they arrived.
Reports said two of the first officers to arrive on the scene found Kenyan Clay, 29, standing next to one of the victims who was killed.
Because of a large crowd and a small number of officers, he was asked to move, and he began swearing and giving officers a hard time, reports said.
Reports said police decided to put him in a cruiser, and when they asked him if he had anything illegal on him, he said he had a loaded gun.
Police searched him and found a loaded 9mm handgun, reports said.
Clay was charged with carrying concealed weapons and obstructing official business. He managed to post a $5,000 bond shortly after he was booked into the Mahoning County jail, but he failed to show up for his arraignment Monday in municipal court, so a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Police Monday released little information on the investigation. Lt. Ramon Cox, the detective supervisor in charge of the case, called the crime scene — or scenes, in this case — the most complex he has seen in a career that has spanned over 30 years and included some of the bloodiest years in the city’s history.
There were shell casings scattered in front of the Torch Club at 1283 Salt Springs Road, which seemed to be the epicenter of the event. Two lots east, there were also several shell casings scattered in a parking lot.
Nearby on Elberen Street, four cars crashed, seemingly in an attempt to flee the gunfire, and at least one of the people in those cars was hit by gunfire.
A few blocks east at Greenwood Street and Salt Springs Road, there was a two-car accident where police found one of the shooting victims who died. A caller to 911 told police he saw a man running down his street shortly after the accident.
“The driver got out and he tried to run through my back yard,” the man told the call-taker.
The man’s yard was fenced in, so the person who ran out of the car gave up and ran toward Waverly Avenue. It is not clear if police ever found him.
A woman on Imperial Street could be heard telling someone in her house to close the door as she spoke to call-takers. When asked if there was a lot of gunfire, she answered: “I couldn’t even tell you. It was a lot because it woke me up.”
Another neighbor called and said someone was screaming they were shot in the leg.
Police also fielded a call from Steel and Oneta streets, a short distance away, where someone had a gunshot wound.
As call-takers were taking calls, patrol supervisors were trying to muster enough officers to respond to the scene. At the time, every officer on midnight turn was downtown trying to break up a fight that attracted a crowd of about 200 people who filled Commerce Street outside a bar. At first, members of the vice squad and the Neighborhood Response Unit initially responded before west side cars, then other cars from downtown responded to the shooting scene.
Eventually, officers from Liberty, Girard, Austintown, Mill Creek MetroParks and the state patrol also showed up to help deal with crowd control.
One caller said she saw one of the shooters.
“He had a black shirt on,” she said as people could be heard screaming in the background.
“Is somebody shot?” the call-taker asked her.
“Somebody’s dead,” the caller replied.
Another man said an ambulance was needed right away for a person who was shot in the neck.
As the state patrol called in, saying, “My units are hearing shots fired,” another call-taker can be heard in the background saying that a victim was calling in from Steel and Oneta streets.
The city has now seen 12 homicides this year, as compared to 13 at this time last year. There have been 43 people shot and wounded this year, including all 12 homicide victims, as compared to 28 people shot at this time last year, which includes 12 of the 13 homicide victims.
For 2020, Youngstown recorded 98 gunshot victims, including 27 of 28 homicide victims. That was an increase of 40 over 2019, when 58 people were shot, including all 20 of that year’s homicide victims.
The Mahoning County Coroner’s Office has yet to release the names of the victims.