YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and police Chief Carl Davis appealed for calm at an unusual Saturday afternoon press conference after two homicides in less than 24 hours.
Both also asked the public for any information they may have on the homicides and asked that they forego any retaliation.
“I’m pleading,” Brown said. “I ask that you let the men and women of law enforcement do their job. Let’s not have street justice.”
Watch the full press conference in the video above.
They also announced a special detail, which has been looking for gun offenders, has been augmented by other officers and agencies. They will be saturating certain neighborhoods where the violence has been prevalent.
Davis said social media chatter in the wake of the shootings where people have talked about retaliation spurred the extra manpower for the patrols.
Davis said the patrols will respect citizens going about their daily routines, but he also asked that they understand in return why the officers are there and the job that they have to do.
Brown said the violence is only caused by a small group of people, but he wants to make sure their actions do not snowball out of control.
“I’m asking and I’m pleading,” Brown said. “This is a small, minute group of individuals making it bad for everyone else.”
Detectives have been investigating since late Thursday when a man was shot and killed and another wounded at South and East Lucius avenues. About 4:30 p.m. Friday, another man was killed and a woman wounded in an SUV in the 3400 block of Market Street.
For the year, Youngstown has four homicides. Last year, the city had 28 homicides.
Neither Brown nor Davis would say if the homicides are related to each other, and they would not identify the victims, deferring to detectives.
The gun reduction program has been ongoing since October, when police Chief Robin Lees sent out extra patrols in a month that saw three killed and 16 wounded due to gun violence. The patrols, almost all on the South Side, have resulted in the seizures of more than 40 guns and 30 gun arrests. Lately, some of the patrols have also been on the North Side after a series of shootings, some with semiautomatic rifles, in the Broadway Avenue/Wirt Street area.
The program has used officers working overtime in marked cars. But now, officers will be joined by plainclothes officers who are members of the vice squad, as well as members of the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and the Mahoning Valley Drug Task Force.
There were at least four unmarked cars spotted during short ride just after 6 p.m. Saturday from Front and Market streets to East Midlothian Boulevard.
Davis said the patrols will be out for the foreseeable future.
“For as long as it takes we’ll be out,” Davis said.
Officers also answered some gunfire calls Friday evening, some on the South Side, but no one else was injured.
Before the last two homicides, the city hadn’t seen a homicide since Jan. 2.
The area where the last two homicides were has been relatively quiet, with those two shootings the only two in that area so far this year. Last year, the area from Market Street to South Avenue saw four shootings, two of them fatal. Among the fatal shootings was a Nov. 19 homicide at the same location where Thursday’s homicide was.
So far this year, 11 people have been shot in the city, four of them fatally. At this point in 2020, 15 people had been shot, eight fatally.
Davis also asked for calm, telling those who were considering getting even to think of what their actions would do.
“I ask them to think about what they’re doing and what those consequences would be for the community,” Davis said.
YSU’s Student Government Association also took to Twitter to reassure students of their safety
saying, “We know that many of you may have seen some of the news circulating on social media regarding current events in the city last night. I want to assure you that I’ve been in contact with our Youngstown State University Police Chief to ensure the safety of our campus.”