Akron police asked for the community’s help Monday in identifying people involved in a Sunday afternoon shooting in a crowded park that left two young people injured.
“There can be NO PLACE here, anywhere, where this is okay,” public information officer Lt. Michael Miller wrote in a press release.
A teen and a 7-year-old child were shot about 4 p.m. Sunday at Lane Field Park in the 600 block of Vernon Odom Boulevard, an area where shots fired calls occur more than anywhere else in Akron. Both victims are expected to survive.
The shooting took place near a playground just after the conclusion of a youth football game, Miller said.
Police Chief Steve Mylett told News 5 Cleveland the shooter may be another child between the ages of 11 and 15.
A witness told officers the suspect was wearing a black and white hoodie, fired at a jungle gym area and fled the area. He pointed out marks in the mulch where bullets had landed, according to body-worn camera video released by police.
Miller said there was at least one shooter who wore a mask. One or two people may have accompanied the shooter.
No arrests have been made.
Police said the 7-year-old is out of surgery Sunday night and is in serious but stable condition. Further surgeries are needed for his injuries. Akron Public Schools spokesman Mark Williamson confirmed the child is a second-grade student at nearby Helen Arnold elementary school.
A 19-year-old man was struck in the leg and his injuries are not considered to be life-threatening, police said.
‘Lots of kids out there’
Recordings of 911 calls from several people released by Akron police Monday described panic and confusion at the football field.
“There’s a lot of people shooting out here … on the football field. Somebody’s shot,” one woman told a dispatcher. The woman then could be heard calling to someone. “Where’s my kids at?”
“Everybody’s running. You’ve got to get the police out here right now,” the caller continued. “Somebody got shot, but they’re carrying that little kid away.”
Two different callers said between 10 to 15 shots were fired at the scene.
Another caller told a dispatcher the boy was being taken to the hospital in a private car, and estimated he was aged 8 or 9.
The dispatcher asked the woman to try and get the people to keep the boy there for paramedics, but the caller said she was too far away.
Dispatchers also asked callers whether they could describe the shooter, but none said they had seen the shooting.
Mylett calls shooting ‘unacceptable’
“So we think it happened over here by the jungle gym,” Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett told News 5 Cleveland Monday during an interview at the scene. “The results are a 7-year-old is fighting for his life in the hospital.”
Mylett said he went to the hospital and prayed with the family Sunday night.
“To see that little boy in that big bed with the trauma that was done to his being — it’s just, we use words, it’s unacceptable. It is unacceptable.”
Police are trying to figure out if there was a second shooter.
“We have some good witnesses that gave us good information,” Mylett said. “We’re following leads. I don’t want to get into that aspect.”
Shots fired calls frequent in Lane Field area
There’s nowhere in Akron with more reports of shots fired than the neighborhood around Lane Field, according to Beacon Journal analysis of police and U.S. Census Bureau data.
Since January 2019, 911 callers and police who respond while on patrol have reported 19.8 shootings for every 100 residents who live in the area bounded by East Avenue, Vernon Odom Boulevard, Thornton Avenue and the Akron Innerbelt. That’s nearly quadruple the 5.4 reports of shots fired per 100 residents in all of Akron.
The Lane Field neighborhood, which rests at the bottom of Sherbondy Hill, also has more daytime shootings. Since January 2019, 29% of the 165 reports of shots fired in the area have occurred while the sun is up, compared to 23% of the 11,007 shots fired citywide.
The police data pulled for this analysis includes all reports of shots fired, including cases with no victim or evidence or evidence like spent shell casings and bullet holes.
Shammas Malik expresses frustration over gun violence
Akron Ward 8 Councilman Shammas Malik expressed his frustrations with violence gun violence in the city Monday on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“This is the second time in just a few days that a young person in our community has been a victim of gun violence – 17-year old Antenio Louis was killed on Wednesday,” wrote Malik, the soon-to-be Democratic mayor of Akron.
“I share in the frustration, sadness, and outrage that I hear in the community,” he said on social media. “As I said just a few days ago, our young people deserve to live and to thrive, and that is my highest priority.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Akron Police Department Detective Bureau at 330-375-2490 or 330-375-2Tip. Citizens may also provide anonymous information to any of the following to Summit County Crime Stoppers at 330-434-COPS.
Reporters Bryce Buyakie, Eric Marotta and Doug Livingston contributed to this article.