Youth carrying guns in Cincinnati a bigger problem than ever before

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - For 36 years, Lt. Col. Vince Demasi has patrolled the streets of Cincinnati. He says, without a doubt, there are more guns on the street and they are ending up in the hands of younger people.

"When I first started this job, I don't ever recall taking a gun off a 14, 15, or 16 year old," said Demasi.

Saturday night, when 16 year-old Davon Mullins was at Sawyer Point, police say he was in possession of a gun that had been dropped from the Purple People Bridge into the Black Family Reunion, in order to evade that event's security.

Officer Oscar Cyranek ended up trailing Mullins to Fountain Square, where the two spent just moments interacting before Mullins produced a 9 mm handgun, and pointed it at the officer.  Cyranek fired two shots, and Mullins died.  But Lt. Col. Demasi says that night Mullins wasn't the only youth who was armed downtown.

"What was really scary about that situation, if you put it into context, within a matter of about 3 or 4 hours...there were 4 different instances reported in and around that area, involving kids with guns," he said.

Investigators now have the task of tracking down whose gun Mullins used, and where he got it.  That task will be made even harder because, Demasi says, the gun has never been registered anywhere, and may have been stolen from someone who isn't even aware that it's missing.

Officers' lives are increasingly at risk, says Demasi.  They encounter young people carrying weapons that the youth do not know how to properly use, and they have no appreciation for how seriously they can impact those around them.

"It's become commonplace," he said. "It's almost as if it's really no big deal. It's become expected. Kids carry guns and if they get mad at you, they shoot you."

Demasi says it's no secret that there are many layers to peel away in order to address this issue.  Parents must be involved, he says, and must know what their children and teens are doing, where they are going, and with whom.  Communities need to support families.  Jobs need to be created.  There is much work to be done.  With Chief James Craig at the helm of the police department, Demasi says that youth violence is the number one priority of the new administration.

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