CINCINNATI – Cincinnati officials are expressing outrage and horror over a drive-by shooting in which more than twenty bullets were fired into a crowd of children, killing an 11-year-old boy and striking four other children and an adult.
The victims were near an intersection Friday evening when an occupant of a dark sedan fired 22 shots in rapid succession, Police Chief Terri Theetge told reporters Sunday. Boys aged 11, 12, 13 and 15 were affected; and a 15-year-old girl; and a 53-year-old woman. One victim remained in hospital in stable condition.
Two of the children attended Cincinnati Preparatory Academy, including the boy who was killed. The other three attended public schools in Cincinnati. One of the injured victims remains in hospital in stable condition while the others have been released.
Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval, who called the shooting “disgusting and unimaginable,” said children were playing outside when the shots rang out in the city’s West End. The scene is a short walk from a daycare center, a girls’ dance studio and a playground.
“There were 22 shots fired,” Pureval said. “22 rounds in one moment – in a group of children. No time to answer. No time to react.”
Officials have not released information about a suspect or said whether the shooting was a targeted act.
The shooting is the latest incident in a wave of gun violence across the country. There have been 596 mass shootings in the U.S. this year as of late Sunday, according to the Gun Violence Archive. According to the archive, more than 1,200 teenagers (aged 12 to 17) were killed and 3,400 injured in 2023. More than 250 children (ages 11 and younger) were killed and nearly 570 injured.
“Such violence cannot be our status quo”
“This is not an act of force majeure; this is not a natural disaster. The devastation, damage and loss of life is a shock to all of us, but it is due to the actions of real people and is made possible by access to weapons,” City Manager Sheryl Long told reporters during a news conference Sunday afternoon , holding back tears at times.
“Violence like this cannot be our status quo,” Long said, adding that she also lost family to gun violence.
In response to Friday’s shooting, Cincinnati police are looking to expand the presence of uniformed and non-uniformed officers in the West End in addition to the use of cameras, Theetge said.
A team of social workers is also mobilizing to offer support to West End residents. Long said the city will also send staff to Hays-Porter Elementary, Taft High School and Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy on Monday.
Before Friday’s shooting, two teenagers, ages 16 and 14, were shot in the West End neighborhood. According to Cincinnati police, another 30 adults have been shot there this year. There have already been three homicides in the neighborhood in 2023.
Long said the neighborhood is experiencing “disproportionately high levels of gun violence,” but the city’s efforts to combat violence there — including a months-long investigation into a concentrated crime area at Livingston and John streets that led to the closure of a Liquor store led – have produced some results.
A father’s request for information
Given the rising number of teen-involved shootings in the city, police have begun specifically monitoring child homicide statistics, Pureval said, citing access to guns and inadequate conflict resolution as causes of the violence.
He said 40% of illegal guns on Cincinnati streets come from cars. City officials have repeatedly urged gun owners to lock up their firearms to prevent those weapons from being stolen and used in crimes.
“The propensity to immediately resort to deadly force, no matter how small the incident, is overwhelming,” the mayor said. “The gun violence we see is no longer concentrated in one neighborhood or the drug trade. Because of the universal accessibility of guns, they are everywhere, especially among our children.”
While officials have not yet identified the boy who was killed, Issac Davis, his father, appealed for anyone with information about the child’s death to come forward.
“When will this stop? “Will this ever stop?” he asked. “For example, how many people have to bury their children, their babies, their loved ones?”
The Cincinnati Police Department Homicide Unit’s investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call investigators at 513-352-3542.
Contributors: Charles Ventura, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: An 11-year-old is killed and five others are injured in a mass shooting in Cincinnati