A teenager was shot in broad daylight near a local park, where a celebration of civil rights was taking place.
“He is recovering,” said Duane Strong, a friend of the victim’s family. “His journey is going to be long.”
The 15-year-old boy was shot and injured June 17. Family, friends and city leaders are hoping police can find the shooter so they can get justice for the teen.
The teen suffered a spinal cord injury in the shooting and is now paralyzed. Strong said the teen has undergone several surgeries and hopes to get home soon.
“It was a nice day and I talked to him,” Strong said. “He actually thought it would be a safe place to go because of it being a community event. It was authorized by the city, so why not go down to the park? It should be safe.”
The shooting happened near Stoner Hawkins Community Park. The teen was going to a Juneteenth celebration when he was shot. Strong says they do not believe the boy was the intended target.
Councilman Russel Neal said he believes police should have been at the event.
“Knowing you having this event and then not providing any police presence, that is troubling,” Neal said.
“I went to the Italian fest last weekend and the police had tents sent up,” Strong said. “The police were walking all over the place. Why couldn’t they have had half of the amount of officers here at an event of this magnitude here in our community?”
The I-Team reached out to Akron police about the matter. Lt. Michael Miller said police share the “family’s grief concerning this tragedy.”
“Extensive efforts were made to find officers to staff the event but due to multiple community events taking place on the same day, staffing shortages within the department, there were no (APD) uniformed officers present,“ Miller stated in an email response. “Please know that the event organizer reportedly did have plain-clothed armed security and was responsible to provide their own security.”
So far, no arrests have been made, but Akron detectives are continuing to investigate the shooting.
Police and family members are urging anyone that may have cell phone video showing the shooting to contact police right away. Councilman Neal said they can also contact him.
“We need people to speak up,” Neal said. “I want people to think what would they do if this was their family member.”
Neal and Strong added that they hope the community and police can work together to help reduce the amount of teen violence happening in the city.
“We all need to work together,” Neal said. “This needs to end.”