Deadly Smale Park shooting result of ongoing disagreement, police say

Suspected shooters had verbal altercation before gunfire
Published: Jul. 4, 2021 at 11:41 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 5, 2021 at 7:59 AM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The two people killed late Sunday at Smale Park shot at each other as a result of an ongoing disagreement, Police Chief Eliot Isaac said.

According to police, one person died at the scene and another at the hospital.

Police identified the two people killed as 16-year-old Milo Watson and 19-year-old Dexter Wright Jr.

“There’s been some kind of ongoing disagreement between the two individuals and believe it just spilled over yesterday evening at the park,” Chief Isaac explained.

Cincinnati police say Dexter Wright Jr., 19, was involved in a verbal altercation with Milo...
Cincinnati police say Dexter Wright Jr., 19, was involved in a verbal altercation with Milo Watson, 16, at Smale Park Sunday night. There was an exchange of gunfire and both were killed.(Cincinnati Police Department)

Three victims were caught in the crossfire, Chief Isaac said.

A 17-year-old female, who was shot, is in critical condition at UCMC, the chief said.

400-500 teenagers were at Smale Park when the shooting happened, according to Colonel Lisa Davis.

Officers were clearing out the park around 10:45 p.m. when they heard shots and saw people running.

The three surviving victims are not being identified at his time.

“This is not something that I think we can take lightly by any means,” Chief Isaac said. “Sixteen-year-olds, 15-year-olds should be able to come to the park on a given evening, a holiday weekend, and not have to be subject to gunfire.”

One of the surviving victims, 16-year-old Brooke, talked with FOX19 NOW on Monday about the shooting.

Brooke was shot in her left arm. When she was shot, she says she did not think it was a bullet at first.

“I thought it was a firework,” Brooke recalled. “I thought somebody just shot me with a firework, and then I saw my hand, it was all bloody and I looked over and I said, ‘I got shot,’ and I feel my arm and I feel a bullet in my arm like an actual bullet, so I was in shock.”

Witness Amber Gray says she was at Smale Park watching fireworks with her son when the shooting happened.

Brooke says Sunday was a nightmare she never expected.

Victim recalls shooting | Teen caught in crossfire of Smale Park shooting recovering

“We heard screaming... we heard more shots, and we saw everyone running and screaming,” Gray said.

She said she had a bad feeling about the situation but wasn’t sure and didn’t want to assume the noise wasn’t fireworks.

“I was closer than I’d ever want to be,” Gray said she ran to her car as fast as she could once she realized what was happening.

Police have not found the guns yet.

There might be others involved, aside from the two shooters, Chief Isaac said.

Police are asking anyone with information to call CrimeStoppers at 513-352-3040.

“At this point, we really need people that were around that saw something,” Saunders said. “If they recorded video - if they would provide that information to us and call CrimeStoppers. We also have a tip line that you can submit information through it – they can that way to submit information.”

Mayor John Cranley issued a statement on Monday regarding the shooting.

“This is tragic and made even more sad by the fact that the shootings occurred in a group of primarily teenagers. The victims remain in my prayers. Our cops have been diligent about patrolling in parks that attract groups of teenagers—and will continue to do so—but this issue is much deeper and cannot alone be solved with crime-fighting strategies.

“I have asked the City Manager and Chief to convene the Manager’s Advisory Group to examine causes, evaluate resources and ultimately create a plan to address youth violence in our City. These kids are turning to violence to solve their problems, to retaliate when they feel they have been wronged.

“This is rooted in problems faced by youth long before they engage in such acts. We need help from the community.”

CPD gives update on deadly Smale Park shooting

Watson was an 11th-grade student at Princeton High School, Superintendent Tom Burton said in a message to district families.

“Our heart is with Milo’s family and loved ones as they process this tragic loss. We have a deep concern for the safety and well-being of our students, their families, and those who were impacted by this terrible event.

“The loss of a student creates a hole in our community that is felt by us all.”

Walter Thomas, who says Wright Jr. was his neighbor, watched him grow up saying he was a good kid.

“I knew Dexter when his grandfather was alive,” said Thomas. “He was into baseball, football. His grandfather stayed with him, kept him in practice. I mean, he was a good kid.”

Thomas recalls times when he would be outside and Wright Jr. would walk by and say hello.

“I’d be sitting on the porch, he’d come out and say, ‘how you doing Mr. Wallace,’ and I’d speak to him, and I’d wake up in the morning, and he’d be cutting the grass, and he’d make me cut the grass because we tried to keep our yards the same.”

Thomas held back tears as he talked about his relationship with Dexter.

Thomas says he was shocked when he heard the news about Dexter’s involvement in the shooting.

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