WARREN, Ohio – Gang violence threatened trick-or-treating in one Northeast Ohio community. Two people have been killed in two weeks, and police believe threats of retaliation could escalate the violence.
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin held a news conference Wednesday morning demanding a stop to the violence that has plagued the city. He said trick-or-treating will go on as scheduled, but urged parents and other residents to keep a closer watch on children.
“I’m not mad today; I’m sad today ’cause my son is gone. I can’t get him back. I can’t get him back,” said Richard Rollison.
He also spoke at a news conference at Warren City Hall asking for peace in the city.
Rollison’s 24-year-old son, Ricky, was shot and killed Saturday morning at a gas station on Tod Avenue.
“If you want to honor my son, and honor my family, don’t do nothing. Let the police do this,” Rollison said.
Fearing some sort of retaliation, Rollison said he met with nearly two dozen of his son’s friends overnight, urging them not to meet violence with violence.
As a precaution, Warren city leaders asked Ohio State Troopers to come in to help keep the peace. Schools were put on high alert, and despite the potential threat for violence in the city, they refuse to cancel trick-or treating because of it.
“We’re asking adults to be responsible, to make good decisions, to be out there with your kids. We’re not gonna run our city based on fear,” said Mayor Franklin.
According to Warren Safety Director Enzo Cantalamessa, the conflict began on October 20 when 24-year-old Taemarr Walker was shot and killed during an altercation with a Warren police officer. Someone’s posts on social media websites upset Walker’s family.
“I’m asking today that this careless, irresponsible use of social media come to an end,” said the mayor.
Investigators said Walker’s relatives accused people at a local bar of celebrating Taemarr’s death. Taemarr’s 26-year-old brother, TaShawn, is accused of opening fire outside of the bar.
Rollison’s sister said her brother, Ricky, identified TaShawn as “his” killer before he died, but police are trying to figure out a connection.
“I’m coming to you this morning in order to ask for everyone’s help to simply stop the violence,” said the mayor.
“If anybody should be mad and want to take a life, it should be me; I’m his father. Ricky wouldn’t want you young men to do that because all it’s gonna do is keep going on, and on, and on, and on, and we don’t need this,” said Rollison.