A 6-year-old child in Youngstown, Ohio was hospitalized after the child’s home was hit by a barrage of gunfire that rocked the community.
Police say the child is in stable condition after the shooting, which happened early Wednesday morning just after midnight, in the eastern Ohio town. Although an arrest has yet to be made, residents and community leaders are reacting with concern that the home was targeted on what would have been the child’s first day of school.
Officers responded to the home after the city’s ShotSpotter gunshot detection system alerted them to the shots, WFMJ reported. 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 under surveillance, the station reported.
The several other children and adults in the home at the time were uninjured, WKBN reported. Police believe the shots were aimed at another person in the home, which has already drawn the attention of law enforcement, the station reported.
Investigators did not determine the number of shots fired or the weapons used, but collected ‘numerous’ shell casings in front of the house and neighbors reported hearing more than 20 shots, according to the station .
“We have to go curb our appetite for this stuff,” activist and businessman Derrick McDowell later told WKBN. “We have to talk to people who are afraid. We have to talk to people who are apathetic.”
Near the Pennsylvania border, Youngstown has a population of about 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 analysis website NeighborhoodScout.
Over the past five years, 21 people, all 19 or younger, have been killed in Youngstown, WFMJ reported in June. The station reported that the city has seen a spike in teens killed by gun violence since 2021.
Local clergy told WKBN that peace marches and vigils had succeeded in preventing the shootings, but said the violence would only end with greater community involvement.
“These are people who get involved in mentoring,” Pastor Ken Simon of New Bethel Baptist Church told the station. “People getting involved in mediation. People getting involved in the parent group that we’re organizing, because it’s going to take all of us.”
Youngstown Police Capt. Jason Simon told WFMJ that extra patrols and public safety partnerships have deterred the 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 just police presence, but it’s community support and working with our partners to stop crime from spilling onto the streets,” Simon said. “Not just putting people in jail, but making sure people are employed and resolving their disputes other than by shooting houses.”
A Youngstown Police Department spokesperson said Newsweek Wednesday evening that no additional information was available.