Marchers called for end to violence after death of girl, 8

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Family and friends of an 8-year-old Akron girl killed in a shooting last month are calling for an end to gun violence responsible for the deaths of the girl and other children in the Ohio city.

Relatives of 8-year-old Mikayla Pickett organized a “Save Our Children” walk Friday that started in the neighborhood where the girl was killed and ended in front of Akron City Hall.

Marchers repeatedly chanted “Stop the violence! Put the guns down!” The girl died after shots were fired Aug. 14 at a backyard birthday party. The homicide remains unsolved.

“We want them to find Mikayla’s killer. We want justice for Mikayla. We want him behind bars,” said the girl’s mother, Shoskamika Risper.

Lt. Michael Miller used a megaphone at city hall to tell the family, “We are working every day around the clock to solve her murder,” the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

The group also called for justice for the murders of other children. On Tuesday, 6-year-old Mar’Viyah Jones died of injuries from a Sept. 10 shooting on an Akron street, according to the Summit County medical examiner’s office. Authorities say two men in vehicles argued and exchanged gunfire, killing Jones, a passenger in one of the vehicles.

In June, a man and a 14-year-old girl were killed in an Akron shooting. In July, a man was arrested on charges of using a sport utility vehicle to kill a man and his young daughter as the father pushed the girl in a stroller on an Akron sidewalk.

Pastor Roderick Pounds of Second Baptist Church called such deaths “heartbreaking.” He and other officials said there should be more community recreation centers and activities available to young people.

“When you’re running the street with no purpose, no destination and no purpose, it’s a breeding ground for trouble,” Finney said.

After the death of Jones, Mayor Dan Horrigan said he was working to deploy new strategies to interrupt the cycle of shootings and build on the work of the Youth Violence Prevention Plan. On Friday, he said gun violence was “the number one issue that keeps me up at night.”

“We need to stand together as a community and say that we will not lose another child to gun violence this year,” he said.