November 24, 2014

Elyria
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Rash of shootings kills 2 in Lorain

LORAIN — Two Lorain residents were killed and three other people wounded in three separate shootings in a central Lorain neighborhood during the past three days, officials said Tuesday.

Christopher Hill, 16, of Lorain, died Tuesday afternoon at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, a hospital spokesperson said. Marquis McCall, 18, of Lorain, was pronounced dead on arrival from a gunshot wound to the chest at Community Regional Medical Center in Lorain on Monday night, Lorain police Sgt. Albert Rivera said.

In response to the shootings, the Police Department has canceled all time off for officers, its SWAT team is working 24 hours a day, K9 units have been called out and off-duty officers have been called in to help patrol. In addition, officers from other agencies including the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the U.S. Marshal’s Office have also been patrolling the area.

“Everybody’s working,” said Rivera. “We’re pulling out all the stops in an attempt to prevent any more shootings.”

Shooting #1

At 2:34 a.m. on Sunday, Aaron Rodriguez, 18, and Duane Richardson, 19, both of Lorain, were wounded in a drive-by shooting as they walked near West 18th Street and Oakdale Avenue. Rodriguez was shot in the right leg and was treated and released from Community Regional Medical Center, said Jennifer Kennedy, the hospital’s public information officer.

Richardson was shot in the foot, and a police report states he also was taken to Community Regional Medical Center, however the hospital does not have information about Richardson, Kennedy said.

“Both Duane and Aaron are not being very cooperative on this,” Rivera said. “They were victims, but they weren’t very open with officers. The problem is, a lot of the criminal element in that area that witnessed these activities doesn’t exactly cooperate with us.”

Rivera wouldn’t release any more details.

A police report stated witnesses saw three to four black males running between houses in the area just after the shooting. One of the men, Tramaine White, 19, of Cleveland, was charged with obstructing official business when he was found hiding in a nearby yard.

White told officers he witnessed the shooting and was trying to hide, the report said. When told he would be given a gun residue test, White told officers he’d been at a shooting range earlier that day. White also told officers the shooters got out of a red vehicle and indicated a maroon Toyota parked in front of the residence where the shooting occurred, the report stated. Officers also noted they’d been called to the same area the night before for shots fired and the Toyota matched a vehicle description given at that time. The car was towed for possible evidence.

The report also lists a .20-gauge shotgun and a .20-gauge shotgun shell, which were found in a West 18th Street driveway as evidence.

The results of a gunshot residue test performed on White were not available.

“We’ve got a lot of leads on this,” Rivera said.

Shooting #2

At 5:55 p.m. Monday, Christopher Hill was in the front passenger seat of a vehicle parked in the 1700 block of Long Avenue where it intersects with West 18th Street — a block away from Sunday’s shooting.

Hill was shot in the face just as the car he was riding in was pulling away from the curb, Rivera said, adding the driver’s information is not being released.

“There were numerous witnesses,” Rivera said. “We want the information we’re getting to be as accurate as possible.”

Rivera said the shooting was not a drive-by and that he couldn’t release any information on where the shots came from, what type of gun or guns were used, how many shooters were involved or how many total shots were fired in the incident.

“Hill is the only reported victim in that shooting that we’re aware of,” Rivera said, adding it appears Hill “floated” back and forth between Elyria and Lorain, but lived primarily in Lorain.

Shooting #3

At 10:17 p.m. Monday, Marquis McCall was shot in the chest during a drive-by at West 13th Street and Long Avenue as he was walking with six to seven other males, Rivera said.

“A vehicle approached them and opened fire from the car,” he said.

Seventeen-year-old Craig Roberson of Lorain was grazed in the leg and initially taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Lorain, Kennedy said. Hospital records indicate that Roberson was later transferred, but didn’t indicate to where, Kennedy said. This shooting took place a couple blocks from the fatal shooting of Christopher Hill earlier the same night.

Police aren’t releasing a description of the car involved, saying making that public knowledge could interfere with the investigation.

“We have a description,” Rivera said. “We want to make sure the witness information we’re getting isn’t tainted.”

Rivera also said he couldn’t comment on how many people were inside the vehicle or on how many shots were fired.

Common links?

Rivera confirmed more than one person was involved in all three shootings. He also was mum on whether the shootings were connected and on motive.

“They are all related geographically in that they’re all happening within the same area,” he said. “Are they related to one another? That’s a ‘no comment.’ As for motivation, I can’t comment. It’s too early in the investigation.”

Rivera called the neighborhood a “high-crime area.”

McCall and Hill are the second and third homicides in Lorain so far this year.

Mayor Tony Krasienko said he was “deeply saddened” by the deaths and promised an intense police response.

“We are putting all our available resources with the Police Department on the issues surrounding these crimes,” Krasienko said. “What we want residents to know is that they should not be surprised if they get pulled over for rolling through a stop sign or making a turn without a turn signal because the police are on the lookout for illegal guns and contraband. Lorain is going to continue with a massive crackdown on illegal drug activity. Unfortunately, our historical data shows in these types of incidents, they are almost always drug-related.”

When asked if the spate of shootings were drug-related, Krasienko said it’s too soon to know.

“We’re waiting for a final analysis since the investigation is ongoing,” he said. “Historical data in that area shows a propensity for illegal drug trafficking.”

Rivera said a number of leads in the shootings are being “aggressively” followed by detectives.

“It’s hard to tell what influences people nowadays to get violent like this,” he said.

Contact Alicia Castelli at 329-7144 or acastelli@chroniclet.com.