CLEVELAND -- Shots were fired during a meeting Tuesday night, to discuss a 4-year-old shot in the leg on the east side of Cleveland a few weeks ago. The incident called even more attention to gang issues in the City.
District 5 Police Commander, Dennis Hill, confirmed Tuesday that the boy got caught in the line of fire because of activity between two warring gangs. The boy was not the target. While Hill would not say which gangs were involved, the Council member over Ward 10, Jeffrey Johnson, says the "Nell Boys" and "Brick" gangs are the culprits in a continuing feud.
3 male juveniles aged 15,16 and 17 were arrested in the case due to a collaborative effort between the gang impact unit and the detectives in the 5th District. 5 people were reportedly in the car at the time of the incident. Police were able to locate the vehicle within hours of the Sunday June 29 shooting.
The 17-year-old passenger was believed to be the shooter. He turned himself in the next day, Hill says. Hill reports if it weren't for the collaboration between the agencies and round the clock work they never would have found and arrested the suspects so quickly. "There are times I don't sleep well because I think about this job," Hill tells Channel 3's Hilary Golston. "Anytime you have an incident where there's a young child involved you do take it personally."
The arrests are not enough for community members, namely Jeffery Goodwin, who tells Channel 3 he witnessed the shooting. "I was on my porch," Goodwin tells Golston. "I seen the blue car when it came past."
The playground where the child was struck, is adjacent to the school, East Clark. Goodwin says the school on East 146th Street has been a problem for a while, but in his opinion police have not done enough to address the issues there including alarms that allegedly sound daily. "That school is a problem and it's a problem now," Goodwin said. "The only time it got this type of news coverage is because a four year old boy got shot."
Recently glass doors at the school were shattered, even after the incident involving the shooting of the young child. "Words are nothing," Goodwin said. "We can't afford to go through anymore red tape. We need action."
Goodwin and several community members showed up at Greater Faith Baptist for a monthly ward meeting to address their concerns with violence.
Commander Hill reports that while he has been strapped by fewer police resources and less manpower, violent crime is lower than it was a year ago in his district.
At the same time, Councilman Johnson reports there is still a significant and systemic issue with gang violence that must be addressed before anything will change. "We have gang problems.. It's a fact," Johnson told Golston. "I don't think enough folks who can make a difference want to acknowledge that."