YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The Mahoning County coroner has identified a child and a man who were shot and killed early Wednesday morning in Youngstown.
Persayus Davis-May, 10, was hit by gunfire inside a home on Samuel Avenue.
Michael Callahan, 40, was found shot on Palmer Avenue.
Autopsies will be conducted on both victims by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office.
With tears streaming down his face, Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown addressed the community Wednesday pleading for answers in the deadly shootings.
In an emotional press conference, police said the pair of shootings that killed Davis-May and Callahan, and wounded four others, are linked.
Mayor Brown also offered a $10,000 reward for anyone with information on the shootings. The first happened around 2:25 a.m. Wednesday that took the child’s life and wounded three others in the 600 block of Samuel Avenue.
Just five minutes before that shooting, Callahan was killed and another man was wounded in a shooting that caused the pickup truck they were driving in to crash into a utility pole at South and Palmer avenues.
Police Chief Carl Davis said both shootings are linked but he declined to say how.
Brown and Davis were visibly upset and angry during the press conference and it appeared that Brown had been crying before he spoke. He said any death is tragic but to lose a 10-year-old to violence “makes my heart ache right now.”
“Being a father, I can’t imagine,” a somber Brown said. “Tomorrow morning, my son’s heading to school. I can’t imagine him not going to school.”
Brown said the child was caught up in a feud between adults and it took her life.
“This has to stop,” Brown said. “We’re not solving anything. Now our babies — our babies — are victims of adult feuds. Street justice has proven not to be an answer. Put down the guns.”
Brown implored anyone who has information to go to police. He said he is certain there are people who know what happened, “and don’t tell me you don’t know,” he added.
“If you don’t do it for me, do it for this 10-year-old child who lost her life,” Brown said.
In contrast to the somber Brown, who called Wednesday “the darkest day since I’ve been mayor,” Davis appeared visibly angry.
“How many times do I have to stand here and keep saying this?” Davis asked, alluding to previous press conferences this year in the wake of multiple homicides.
When a reporter asked Davis what the difference was in Wednesday’s press conference than those in the past, Davis replied, “this time, a 10-year-old child was killed.”
Davis said of the victims on Samuel Avenue, the three adults who were wounded were outside when they were shot. The girl was inside the house when she was hit. She was found dead at the scene.
Almost a year ago, a man was wounded in the same house on Samuel Avenue on Aug, 22. A city police officer had to use a tourniquet to keep him from bleeding to death on the front porch. Police did make an arrest in the case but a grand jury chose not to indict on a felonious assault charge. Instead, the suspect was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Davis said he was not sure if Wednesday’s shooting was connected to that one, but he did say both shootings are connected to other acts of violence across the city this year. He did say, however, that the house is familiar with police and known for drug activity.
At the other crime at Palmer and South avenues, police collected about 20 shell casings in the intersection of Palmer and Gibson avenues. Detectives at the scene said the truck was hit there and continued driving until it crashed into the pole, which had a “Stop the Violence” sign right next to it. The driver was killed and his passenger wounded.
Davis said in response that the department would be running checkpoints across the city to fight crime, but he said he would not release details until later. We’ve learned from multiple sources that the Youngstown Police Department has pulled a number of officers off of federally-funded task forces, which do much of their work in the city.
“This is going to stop,” Davis said.
Also on hand was Rev. Kenneth Simon of New Bethel Baptist Church and one of the organizers of a series of prayer walks and other events across the city to help stop the violence. When asked to come to the podium by a reporter, Rev. Simon said the city is “in a war” against violence and his group will not stop their marches or efforts, which began in earnest in July.
Rev. Simon said he realizes it will take a sustained effort by his group and more community involvement to put a dent in the city’s violence problem and make it stop. He said the group is not going anywhere and will continue their efforts.
“We’re not giving up the fight. We’re in it for the long haul,” Rev. Simon said. “We have to have a sustained effort and the community needs to become more involved. This ought to be a pivotal moment for us.”
Wednesday’s shootings give the city 20 homicides for the year and a total of at least 89 people shot. Last year at this time, Youngstown had seen 56 people shot, including 17 of the 18 homicide victims at the time.
Seven of the city’s homicide victims this year are 19 or younger. The girl on Samuel Avenue is the youngest victim this year. Three other victims were 19, one was 18, one was 17 and another 16.
The city ended 2020 with a total of 28 homicides, 27 by gunfire, and 98 people shot overall.
There have been 12 shootings this year with two or more victims. There were eight of those for all of 2020.