A 6-year-old in Youngstown, Ohio, was hospitalized after the child’s home was struck by a barrage of gunfire that’s left the community rattled.
Police said the child is in stable condition after the shooting, which occurred early Wednesday morning, just after midnight, in the eastern Ohio city. While an arrest has yet to be made, residents and community leaders are reacting with alarm that the home was targeted on what would have been the child’s first day in school.
Officers responded to the home after the city’s ShotSpotter gunshot-detection system alerted them to gunfire, reported WFMJ. Arriving at the residence, officers administered first aid to the boy, who was shot in his living room. Officers took him to Mercy Health-St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital instead of waiting for an ambulance.
The child was shot in the shoulder or back and is in guarded condition, the station reported.
The several other children and adults in the home at the time were not injured, reported WKBN. Police believe the gunfire was meant for another person in the house, which has previously attracted attention from law enforcement, the station reported.
Investigators have not determined the number of shots fired or the weapons used, but have collected “numerous” shell casings in front of the house and neighbors reported hearing over 20 shots, according to the station.
“We have to go and curb our appetite for these types of things,” activist and businessman Derrick McDowell later told WKBN. “We have to address the people who are afraid. We have to address the people who are apathetic.”
Near the Pennsylvania border, Youngstown has a population of roughly 60,000 people, about a third of whom live in poverty, according to U.S. Census figures. The city has a higher crime rate with 7.3 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, more than double the rate for the rest of Ohio, according to local data analytics website NeighborhoodScout.
In the last five years, 21 people, all age 19 or younger, have been killed in Youngstown, WFMJ reported in June. The station reported that the city had seen a spike in teenagers killed by gun violence since 2021.
Members of the local clergy told WKBN that peace marches and vigils had some success in preventing shootings, but said the violence will only end with more community involvement.
“It’s people getting involved in the mentoring,” pastor Ken Simon of New Bethel Baptist Church told the station. “People getting involved in the mediation. People getting involved in the parenting group we’re organizing, because it’s gonna take all of us.”
Youngstown Police Captain Jason Simon told WFMJ that extra patrols and public safety partnerships have deterred violence. But he said the city will continue to see gun violence until the underlying issues of poverty and lack of education are addressed.
“It’s not only police presence but it’s community support and working with our partners to keep crime off the streets,” said Simon. “Not just putting people in jail but making sure people are employed and are resolving their conflicts in ways other than shooting at houses.”
A spokesperson for the Youngstown Police Department told Newsweek Wednesday evening that no additional information was available.