Mayor Cranley calls for ‘reeducation of values’ following Smale Park shooting

Community leaders offer suggestions to end teen gun violence
Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 3:25 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Mayor John Cranley called for a “reeducation of values” when addressing teenager-involved shootings, specifically what happened at Smale Park.

Milo Watson, 16, and Dexter Wright Jr., 19, shot and killed each other late Sunday at the park.

The shooting was the result of an ongoing disagreement between Watson and Wright Jr., Police Chief Eliot Isaac said on Monday.

Mayor Cranley said Tuesday, “kids are turning to violence to solve their problems.”

Ultimately the shootings involving teens come down to values, Cranley explained.

“This is fundamentally an issue of values,” Mayor Cranley said. “That even if you feel you have been disrespected, that doesn’t mean you kill someone.”

Between 400 and 500 teens were at Smale Park when gunfire erupted around 10:45 p.m. Sunday, according to police. Mayor Cranley says officers were in the process of moving the teens out at the same time.

Three victims were caught in the crossfire.

A 17-year-old female victim was in critical condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center as of Monday, Chief Isaac said.

The guns Watson and Wright Jr. are suspected of shooting each other with have not been found yet. There might be others involved, aside from the two shooters, Chief Isaac said.

Mayor Cranley says a few things are needed to prevent further shootings like what happened Sunday.

“What we ultimately need is for the community to step up as well and to re-commit to true values of self-love and not believing that if someone calls you a name, shooting them is an appropriate response.”

Chief Isaac challenged those in a leadership position to help the teens.

“Teachers, mentors, coaches, our clergy - they need to be out there to help,” the chief said.

The Reverend Damon Lynch III echoed what the mayor and chief talked about, saying it is time for people to step up and help.

“It’s actually now at a crisis level,” Reverend Lynch said. “I think we’re in a state of emergency, which to me means that every, all of us, every institution, every leader, everybody, every family needs to step up because this has to stop.”

Reverend Lynch says a big key to a lasting solution to teen gun violence is early intervention.

“We’ve got to reach these sixth graders and fifth graders now, so they don’t become the shooters later,” he explained.

Several other incidents of underage gun violence have punctuated the early summer.

A 6-year-old and an 8-year-old were shot on June 12 in Westwood. The 8-year-old was shot in the head, according to family, and was placed in a medically induced coma from which he has since awoken.

A 16-year-old is one of two suspects in a deadly BP gas station shooting that happened on June 8.

Four juveniles were arrested on June 12 after police say a group tried to start a fight at Kings Island.

A 16-year-old shot by Reading Road in Avondale on June 21 died at the hospital days later.

A 16-year-old died after being shot in Golf Manor on June 13.

And 19-year-old died from gunshot wounds just on Monday in North College Hill, according to the Hamilton County Coroner.

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