Caller: Shots fired outside

WARREN – Although the New Year’s Day shooting that claimed the life of a 25-year-old man at the Sunset Lounge reportedly started inside the bar, 911 calls received by city dispatchers that morning reveal that there also may have been gunfire outside.

A woman identifying herself during a 911 call as Mindy told a dispatcher, “There was shots fired in the bar and they came outside shooting and I’m scared.”

Warren police have not said whether they believe shots were contained inside the Sunset Lounge, 480 E. Market St. S.E.

On Friday, police Lt. Jeff Cole, department spokesman, said he could not comment because the case remains an ongoing investigation.

However, based on the information provided by callers on the 911 recording, gunfire could be heard outside the club at the corner of East Market Street and Elm Road. The 911 recording was released by police on Friday.

Another caller told a dispatcher, “At the Sunset, at the Sunset. We need an ambulance. Somebody’s been shot.”

No arrests have been made and police said they are still trying to piece together the events leading to the shooting death of Cory Blackwell, 25, of Francis Street S.E. Trumbull County Coroner Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk ruled Wednesday that Blackwell died of multiple gunshot wounds. He declared the death a homicide.

On Thursday, Blackwell’s girlfriend, Ashonta Gore, told a Tribune Chronicle reporter that Blackwell died in her arms outside the club. Gore said she was outside the bar smoking a cigarette about 2 a.m. New Year’s morning when she heard gunfire, and then Blackwell came outside and told her “they just shot me.”

Police reports indicated that Danee Williams, 26, of Parkman Road S.W., was shot in the foot. There has been no word on whether anyone else was wounded.

Cole said he is optimistic that an arrest will be made soon; however, he said he could not provide a specific time frame.

Meanwhile, city officials have come to an agreement with building owner Joseph Sankey to shut down the Sunset. People have been seen emptying the club of equipment and other items since shortly after the shooting. Cole said that police are not concerned that the movement in and out of the building has compromised the investigation because police collected their evidence and “released” the site. Warren Law Director Greg Hicks concurred.

“Detectives completed that portion of their investigation immediately after the shooting,” Cole said. “It wasn’t necessary to keep it as a designated crime scene because the work they needed to do there has been done.”

Police said they have been working to sort through numerous eyewitness accounts. The day of the shooting, Detective Wayne Mackey said police had already pursued several leads and questioned numerous people.

Several people can be heard yelling on the 911 recording.

“When you have so many people in one place when something like this happens it takes time to sort through the information, the witness accounts and the evidence,” Cole said.

The fatal shooting marks the city’s first homicide for 2013 and the second in less than two months. Two men are awaiting trial in the Nov. 11 shooting death of 32-year-old Marco Dukes Sr. of Warren.

Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said city officials wanted to move swiftly after the Blackwell shooting to quell violence in the city and to address increasing concerns about crime in the downtown area.

“We want people to know we’re serious,” he said. “We will not tolerate this type of criminal activity without doing what we can to quell it.”

Just as the New Year’s Day shooting apparently caused people to flee from the Sunset and spill onto the nearby streets downtown, the Dukes’ murder also incited fear and resulted in one local church closing its doors during its Sunday morning worship service as gunfire could be heard outside.

Dukes was killed on Elm Court near the Sunset.