[CONTENT WARNING: Some of the footage shown in the player below may be disturbing for some viewers.]
O’Malley played surveillance footage from an early Tuesday incident at the Shell gas station at the corner of East 140th Street and St. Clair Avenue in which a dozen juveniles are seen attacking a man then firing down the avenue at a unknown target. One of the juveniles is believed to have fired at least 18 shots, authorities said.
Later that morning, 12 juveniles ranging in age from 17 years old to 12 years old were arrested at a vacant house in the city and charged. Eleven of them remain in a detention center, while the twelfth — a 12-year-old girl with no prior criminal history — was sent home on electronic monitoring, prosecutors said.
“My political diplomacy and patience is long gone,” the city’s Ward 8 councilperson Michael Polensek, said Wednesday. “What we’re dealing with today in the city of Cleveland are urban terrorists. … What you saw on that screen is urban terrorism.
“We gotta take back the streets in Cleveland,” he continued. “Totally unacceptable way to live. … We are not gonna live like this.”
Just after 12:30 a.m., the group of juveniles arrived at the gas station in three stolen vehicles — all Kias and Hyundais stolen from University Circle and Tremont the day prior, according to Brett Kyker, the county prosecutor’s office’s chief of the juvenile division.
Then came what Cleveland Police Chief Wayne Drummond called an “animalistic” attack.
Several of the kids — some armed — are seen punching and kicking a 34-year-old man sitting on the stoop outside the store, whom Kyker said was “clearly minding his own business.” The man retreated inside the store.
He later received medical attention and is expected to be OK, according to O’Malley.
“The man is lucky to be alive,” he said.
Just minutes later, a few of the juveniles are seen firing guns to the east of the gas station at some unknown target — just as a public bus passes by, O’Malley pointed out.
“It’s by the grace of God no one is injured,” he said.
Only two of those kids have been identified. Anyone who can help identify the other shooters seen in the surveillance footage — one boy in a gray hoodie; another in a tan hoodie — is urged to call Cleveland police’s 5th District at 216-623-5000 or Crimestoppers at 216-25-CRIME (216-252-7463).
Ward 8 councilperson Anthony Hairston said when he saw the video his “stomach dropped.”
“This is sickening. We should all be upset. We should all be outraged,” he said, adding that officials are “calling on every single person to do their part,” speaking out and reporting on violent crimes.
Several of the juveniles involved in the attack were arrested just after 2 a.m. that morning, after a resident reported seeing the kids at a vacant house along Delavan Avenue. When police arrived, they found two of the three stolen vehicles from the gas station. They arrested 13 juveniles — nine boys and three girls — and recovered two firearms, Kyker said.
Authorities analyzed the surveillance footage to obtain probable cause to charge 12 of them, Kyker said:
- Twelve of them were charged with receiving a stolen motor vehicle.
- Seven were charged with felonious assault and aggravated riot.
- Seven were charged with improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle.
- One was charged with carrying a concealed weapon.
- Five were charged with having a weapon while under disability, due to prior convictions or outstanding warrants in other cases.
- Two of them were charged with discharging a firearm on or near prohibited premises.
Authorities held the juveniles for several hours while working through the process to have them detained at a juvenile justice center. O’Malley said Wednesday he expects most of the suspects will remain in detention “through the end of their cases,” though that’s up to a judge’s discretion, he added.
O’Malley said at the outset of the Wednesday briefing that many juvenile suspects in armed carjackings are quickly released and end up reoffending.
“Without question, this daily level of violence is unprecedented,” he said. “As a former Cleveland city councilman, I know firsthand how these destructive actions destroy neighborhoods.”
FOX 8 I-Team reporter Ed Gallek asked Mayor Bibb what he can say to Clevelanders who don’t feel safe on Wednesday night.
“I think the residents of councilman Hairston’s and councilman Polensek’s wards will feel safer this evening. Twelve juveniles have been arrested that have been causing havoc in their neighborhoods.”
Drummond echoed his sentiment, adding that the 12 juveniles arrested were responsible for “quite a bit of violence over there.”