NAACP, Urban League request meeting on gun violence
Wish to talk about shootings in Warren with mayor, police chief
WARREN — Trumbull NAACP President Annette McCoy has requested a formal meeting with Mayor Doug Franklin and police Chief Eric Merkel to address gun violence occurring in the city.
McCoy on Tuesday sent an email request to the administration and the police department asking for a meeting that would involve various organizations, including the Warren-Trumbull Urban League, the Black Ministerial Alliance, A. Phillip Randolph Institute, NAACP and other organizations to address violence that seems to be escalating in Warren.
“I sent an email to the mayor at about 5 a.m.,” McCoy said. “I have not received a response yet, but we have had an open-door policy with the mayor and the police chief.”
Franklin said Tuesday evening he had not seen McCoy’s email but “welcomes to meet with any community leaders” to address possible solutions to the violence.
McCoy emphasized Merkel and his department always have responded when the organization has made requests.
“What we have seen happening is occurring all over the country, but we’re focused on the city of Warren,” McCoy said. “We want to know what their plans are. We want to work in unison with the city and the police department.”
She said a meeting was held with the police chief earlier this year about her organization’s concerns about the upcoming summer and the potential for violence.
Thomas Conley, executive director of the Warren-Trumbull Urban League, agrees there should be concrete plans that the administration, police and community organizations and residents can work on together.
In addition to law enforcement investigations, however, Conley also sees a need for some spiritual guidance through prayer vigils, fasting and spiritual cooperation — similar to what has been happening in Youngstown as that city’s faith community has been leading marches in neighborhoods over the last year-and-a-half.
Multiple shootings have occurred in Warren since last week, with police investigating one that occurred on Friday that left a Garrettsville woman dead and two others wounded; and another shooting that occurred Monday evening near 860 Packard St. NW, which resulting in three people being injured.
None of the victims of Monday’s shootings had life-threatening injuries.
Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold, D-6th Ward, said Tuesday she had heard a series of gunshots near her home on the city’s east side around midnight.
“There was a barrage of gunshots, so I call 911,” Saffold said. “Dispatchers told me they received other calls about the shootings. Then, about 10 minutes later, a neighborhood resident called saying there were gunshots outside of her window on Hayes. Police cars showed up outside of that house.”
A police report noted 911 dispatch received multiple calls in the area of Third Street about 12:20 a.m. Tuesday, with residents stating they heard 10 to 20 gunshots in the area.
Investigating officers found approximately 20 shell casings on Third Street. Saffold noted a house on Third was fired upon shortly after midnight.
More shell casings were found in front of 777 Maple St., according to a police report.
Officers spoke to residents at 1146 Hayes Ave. SW, where they collected seven projectiles inside of the residence.
“This is not only happening in our city,” Saffold said. “It is happening nationwide. The guard in the Tops store in Buffalo is one of my relatives. We sent condolences to family and friends.”
Saffold was on the phone all day.
“Everyone has been telling me they want more of a police presence in the neighborhoods,” she said.
The councilwoman said she would like to see the police department do greater enforcement of the city’s curfew laws because she has heard that some of the shootings have been involving teens and young adults who would be affected by these laws.
“If officers see young people out after curfew, they should either fine them or lock them up,” Saffold said.
Safety Service Director Eddie Colbert said the police department will be meeting with city council 4 p.m. today in council chambers, in connection with police department requests for technology investments that will assist in their investigations.
Saffold said he wants to see a camera placed in some of the neighborhoods in the 6th Ward.
“In addressing the various shootings, we need to be able to develop a comprehensive strategy that include all of us working together,” he said.
In the meantime, Colbert said there has to be an effort to make sure young residents know the many opportunities available to them in the city, including youth sports, plus educational opportunities in schools that include robotics and other programs.
Colbert said he always is concerned when he learns about shootings: “I am a father, a husband and have a job title that makes me always concerned about what is happening around the city,” he said.
Colbert said the police department is short about 10 officers from its full strength.
“We have about 60 officers,” he said. “We just hired one officer. We just have not had the applicants.”
Police announced they are seeking information about the Packard shooting. Anyone with information should contact Warren police Detective John Greaver at 330-841-2723.