AKRON, Ohio — A violent weekend in Akron resulted in six people shot and one man dead. The series of shootings Saturday and Sunday followed a fatal shooting at Mount Peace Cemetery Friday night.
“Who goes to a cemetery and shoots up a cemetery where people are paying respects to their loved ones? That's very concerning,” Ward 5 Councilwoman Tara Samples said. “The other incident was a house party and someone rides by and starts shooting it up.”
Investigators say officers arrested one person after he fled the scene of the fatal cemetery shooting Friday night.
That person is accused of killing 17-year-old Davieon Frazier back in April on Neptune Avenue. A memorial to the teen is growing on the side of the road there now.
“We all have to put ourselves in the shoes of those victims’ families. Their mothers or fathers, their sisters, their brothers or grandparents,” Samples said. “I'm concerned. I’ve been concerned. I’ve been very vocal about gun violence that is going on, not only in our city, but across the state, across this country.”
The family of another victim of Akron gun violence is speaking out about the pain of their loss.
“It’s a street code and everything like that, but until it touches your family you'll never know how bad it hurts,” Vivian Powers said.
Powers knows that grief all too well after her brother was killed in Akron one year ago this month.
“This is not a video game. You don't lose a life and start all over with a new one. When you're gone, you're gone,” Powers said. “We're still working really hard to get answers. I know there's a lot going on in Akron. A lot of shootings, a lot of murders.”
Samples said there are a number of contributing factors to the increase in violence.
“Until we address it in a meaningful way, it's only going to continue. These young people are getting their hands on guns or wherever they’re getting them," Samples said. "There's too many of them with them.”
Additionally, Samples said the Akron Police Department’s Gun Violence Unit is strained.
“We have a gun violence unit here in the city of Akron that are doing good work, but they need some help. If we're going to hire police, it needs to be in the Gun Violence Unit. If we're going to hire police, it needs to be in our IT Unit so they can monitor social media,” Samples said. “They have to be strapped right now because every weekend, every day all you hear about is gun violence.”
Families in mourning who lack closure are calling for those with information to speak up.
“We still fight to find out what's going on, to get any clues, any updates. I did try to hire a private detective, but that didn't go good,” Powers said. “That little 'no snitching' thing, people say it until it hits home. Until it hits your family. Some people just don't put value on life.”
Samples said street justice and an unspoken “no snitching” policy are to blame for the standstill of investigations in the city.
“When you know something, you should say something. Don't go and hug your friend's mother when she's in grief because she's lost her child when you know or have an idea of who may have taken her child's life,” Samples said. “Street justice is out of control. Because to me personally, I think that's what we're we're seeing here. Street justice.”
Elected officials are calling for parents of teens and young adults to ask questions and have tough conversations.
“We as parents have to be honest about what our kids are doing. Sometimes that's a hard pill to swallow,” Samples said. “Sometimes you've got to go in your kids’ rooms and see what's going on. Sometimes you've got to go in their backpacks to see what's going on.”