Neighbors say battling violence a big challenge

WARREN – The president of the South East Side Community Association said fighting crime in his neighborhood the past several years has been a battle – a few steps forward and a few more steps back.

Still, Ali Bashir said his side of the city is worth the fight.

“You get taken back by it sometimes,” Bashir said. “You think progress is being made until you hear something like this.”

Bashir, who has been involved with the neighborhood association since 2008, was referring to the stabbings of two men and shooting of another early Tuesday morning – crimes Warren police said they believe are connected.

Although Bashir said he did not have enough information about the recent violence to comment on it specifically, he is concerned about it.

“I couldn’t make sense of it at first,” he said. “It was a lot to take in. You have this here and then the shooting on the west side. I wasn’t sure how or if they were connected.”

Michael B. Settle, 24, of McDonald, was shot while walking on Francis Avenue S.E. near Clarence Street S.E., according to Warren police. Police said on Wednesday they believe Settle, who was released from the hospital, is in good condition.

However, investigators said they are still trying to determine how Settle’s shooting was related to a fight in which two men were stabbed about an hour earlier near Trumbull Homes.

“All we know is that it all stems from the same incident,” Warren police Detective Michael Currington said. “But we’re still trying to piece together exactly what happened and what one thing had to do with the other.”

According to a police report, Kyle Behner, 19, 4272 Donley Road, Mesopotamia, and Nathaniel B. Ferrell, 20, Milton Street S.E.,Warren, each told officers they were stabbed somewhere near the Trumbull Homes apartment complex – they weren’t sure just where – shortly before 3 a.m.

Behner and Ferrell reported they had gotten into an argument with a man they did not know. They said the man pulled a commando-style knife and cut both of them.

Currington said police are still questioning the three men involved along with other possible witnesses.

Police said they do not believe Tuesday’s events were connected to the shooting death of Rodney Fletcher, 45, whose body was found at his Second Street S.W. residence Monday night. Fletcher died from a gunshot wound to the neck and his shooting is being investigated as the city’s second homicide of the year. Cory Blackwell was fatally shot Jan. 1 at the former Sunset Lounge on East Market Street.

“We believe the three incidents Tuesday on the east side are related,” said Warren Police Lt. Jeff Cole, noting that investigators believe that the timing of Fletcher’s death likely was coincidence.

Bashir said he was shocked to learn that one of the stabbing victims is the older brother of Kirklan Behner, 15, who died with five other teens in the March 10 crash on Niles Warren River Road.

Behner, who spoke at his brother’s funeral on Friday, and Ferrell each suffered a severe laceration, police reported. Police said they were both treated and released from the hospital on Tuesday.

“I haven’t talked to the family, but that’s a lot to take in and in such a short amount of time,” Bashir said.

Warren Councilman Vince Flask, who represents the city’s Fifth Ward where Trumbull Homes is located, said he can understand why residents are concerned.

“But I don’t believe there’s more violence in that particular neighborhood than in other areas,” Flask said, noting that Tuesday’s violence doesn’t appear to be random.

Flask also said he doesn’t consider Tuesday’s events similar to other incidents – including the Blackwell shooting at the Sunset.

“There at the Sunset you had a place where people gathered regularly and we know there was trouble there,” Flask said. “But Tuesday morning you had several people who aren’t even Warren residents out on the streets at 3 or 4 in the morning.”

Police said they believe one local business was caught in the crossfire. Two front plate glass windows were shattered by gunshots at Auto Trendz at 2261 Youngstown Road S.E., near where Settle was shot, according to police. Nothing was reported missing from the business, and the windows have been replaced.

Repeated attempts by the Tribune Chronicle to reach store management in person and by phone have not been successful.