I-TEAM: Revealing violence around rec center long before deadly shooting

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CLEVELAND -- The FOX 8 I-TEAM has found dozens of calls for shots fired along with more trouble in and around a Cleveland rec center long before a deadly shooting.

Wednesday evening, gunfire erupted outside the Zelma George Rec Center leaving a 21-year-old man dead and a 15-year-old shot and wounded. The shooting happened just steps away from an area where kids were playing pee wee football.

So the I-TEAM did some digging. We found warning signs.

Since April of last year, we found 36 calls to police for shots fired coming from the rec center or within 1000 feet of it. During the same time period, we also found 55 calls for assaults.

We found the shots fired calls were not for gunfire inside. Instead, by the rec center pool, or near the track. And in some cases, the caller could't tell where the gunfire came from specifically.

The rec center sits on Cleveland’s east side less than a mile from a police station. The I-TEAM asked Councilman Ken Johnson how safe does he think the complex is? He answered in a way that may surprise you. Johnson said, "It’s one of our safest rec centers.”

Johnson argues, despite the calls for the gunfire, and now, the murder, you should consider Zelma George is the city’s busiest rec center.

Johnson said, "If you say, ‘shots fired’, nobody got killed. This is the only one that's ever got killed. When you have that amount of people, you usually have that."

Off-duty police officers work in the rec center at the busiest times. In fact, an officer had been working inside at the time of the deadly shooting. As the I-TEAM walked around, we found an officer called in early to patrol the grounds as a result of the latest violence.

Meantime, Councilman Johnson said, plans had already been in the works to put up new security cameras at the rec center. He says those plans are moving forward, and the cameras should be up "before the snow flies."

Investigators believe the Wednesday gunfire came after an argument between adults. The family of the wounded 15-year-old is not clear about why it all happened, but this marks the third time that teen has been shot in his young life.

As of late Thursday, no arrest had been made. Cleveland homicide detectives kept working to sort everything out.

Among the witnesses, was Constance Shannon. She told FOX 8, "You've got some kids that immediately hit the ground. Lots of running, chaos. I laid on top of my son."

But, Shannon is also calling out city leaders to do more about the violence in the streets saying, "I do challenge the protectors of the city, the mayor, the police chief to really take a look at this."

Continuing coverage here.

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