AVONDALE, OH (FOX19) - A 4-year-old girl was shot in the head and critically hurt in a drive-by on Ridgeway Avenue near Reading Road Thursday night.
The incident drew both Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black and Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell to the scene. Outraged over the innocent child's injuries, Black called the chief out in front of FOX19 NOW cameras, saying the shooter's apprehension would be directly tied to the chief's performance.
"Relatively speaking, crime is down in the city of Cincinnati," Black said. "However, we've got small pockets of groups of individuals that are seeking to wreak havoc on our city and it is going to stop. It is going to stop. We are going to come after them. We're coming after them and we are going to stop this.
"When children are injured, that changes the entire spectrum of everything," continued Black, the father of two. "I am going to be talking to the police department tomorrow about how we are going to proceed from this point on, identifying that very, very small group of individuals who are creating small situations like this.
"We are going to come after them. It's ridiculous and it's not acceptable and it will not be allowed to continue," the city manager said. "I told the chief tonight we are going after them. That is my expectation and that is how I'm going to be how I evaluate his effectiveness as chief."
The girl is the second innocent young girl shot and critically wounded in Avondale this month alone as shootings hit a 10-year high in the city.
"She was just sitting on the side of the road next to an apartment building and somebody just drove by shooting from a car," said Lt. Amanda Spellman, the night chief.
The child was with a group of other people who were outside grilling and enjoying the summer evening.
The gunman was the passenger in a beige, four-door car that pulled up about 8 p.m. He leaned out, started firing at someone in the crowd and then the vehicle took off.
Gunfire also ripped out a few minutes later nearby on Carplin Place. No one was hurt.
The girl was taken to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, where she remains in critical condition.
Her name was not released.
Police said they will not know if she will survive for a few days.
The incident closely resembles the July 5 shooting on Harvey Avenue of China Kinebrew, 6, who is now paralyzed and partially blind. No arrests were made in that case, either.
The plan's launch was delayed by the June 19 slaying of Cincinnati Police Officer Sonny Kim, the first city officer killed in the line of duty in 14 years.
The plan also came under criticism for what some say were ineffective tactics that essentially turned officers into babysitters at low-crime spots like parks and pools instead focusing more resources on higher-crime areas.
The plan was tweaked before it was finally launched at the end of June.
So far, shootings do not appear to be slowing down.
For instance, Cincinnati police responded to three other shootings in about six hours late Thursday and early Friday. Three men were shot in separate shootings in East Price Hill, Walnut Hills and Roselawn.
The chief said whenever an innocent child is shot, it hits everyone hard, and his department is trying to combat the surging violence.
"He's upset," Blackwell acknowledged of Black. "I"m upset. My people are upset. Whenever a child is hit, an innocent victim like this, it makes us angry.It should not happen. But we are dealing with this in an effective manner. We're not an unsafe city. We're going to do the best we absolutely can to make sure we catch this person. We've got good information on who it may be and we are going to do our best to bring him to justice, absolutely."
Blackwell said he would meet with his boss Friday.
"He wants to get together to talk about the emerging violent crime, so we'll see. He's the city manager, and we'll do that," the chief said.