July 28, 2014

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Vigil tonight for Lorain teen

LORAIN — A candlelight vigil will be 6 p.m. today in memory of an 18-year-old Lorain teenager gunned down in a drive-by shooting Monday.

Marquis McCall was shot in the chest and killed as he was walking with a group of six or seven other young men at West 13th Street and Long Avenue, police said.

Lorain County Coroner Paul Matus said McCall was shot more than once but could not release additional details. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

McCall’s death was one of two that occurred in the same central Lorain neighborhood within a matter of two days.

The other victim, Christopher Hill, 16, of Lorain, was shot in the face Monday and died Tuesday at a Cleveland hospital. Hill was shot as he sat in the passenger seat of a car parked in the 1700 block of Long Avenue and West 18th Street.

Three other teenagers were also wounded in shootings Sunday and Monday, and no arrests have been made in the cases.

Safety Director Phil Dore said what happened was very unfortunate, but said he doesn’t want people to define the city by what happened. All five victims — including the two who were killed — had criminal records.

“The typical person living in that neighborhood that is not involved in criminal activity is not at risk,” Dore said. “When you’re involved with drug activity, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be put in jail or get killed. Bad things happen when you associate with the wrong people and engage in the wrong activities.

“I don’t want people thinking Lorain has gone to hell because some people involved in questionable activities got caught in a gun battle.”

The surge of violence prompted police to step up their presence in the area by calling in all off-duty officers, running SWAT 24 hours a day and bringing in K9 units.

In addition, a Lorain resident has invited the Guardian Angels, a group that worked to rid crime from New York City neighborhoods as well as dozens of others around the world, to come to Lorain.

City Councilman Dennis Flores, D-2nd Ward, said he hopes the vigil will help calm things down and restore peace in the neighborhood.

“It’s to provide moral support for the families of the victims as part of a grieving process,” Flores said. “And, it’s to pray for peace in this situation. It’s to calm the fears and restore some peace.”

Flores also said Greater Victory Church at Sixth Street and Reid Avenue is hoping to get 100 people to show up at 10 a.m. Saturday for a “100 Man March” through central Lorain.

A representative of Greater Victory Church could not be reached for comment.

Flores said talking, meetings with church leaders, rallies and vigils are good, but they are not really the answer to the crime and violence in his ward.

“There is no group that is going to solve this problem,” Flores said. “The economic and social ills that plague our community are out of our control. People die every day. People get shot every day. That’s reality. That’s a fact of life. We need to get professionals to come in and talk to these kids one-on-one in a way that will get them to open up and talk about their problems.”

Substance abuse and general psychological counseling is needed along with strong mentors to help show young people that drugs, gangs and violence aren’t the answer, Flores said.

“We can organize this and rally about that — that’s fine,” he said. “But what we really need is foot soldiers to go into the streets and talk to these kids. We need professionals to get inside these kids’ minds and to teach them and show them the street life is not the right path.”

Dore agreed.

“What happened to them is a result of their lifestyles,” he said. “This is related to people with bad backgrounds fighting amongst themselves. It’s very unfortunate that (McCall and Hill) aren’t with us today, but I won’t pull any punches and say they were the victims of a robbery because that’s not what we think happened.”

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