AKRON, Ohio — Akron residents report growing impromptu gatherings at mostly vacant parking lots are causing a growing safety concern with the events attracting stunt driving and riding, loud music and alcohol use.
William Reynolds lives just a quarter mile from the now nearly vacant Chapel Hill Mall parking lot and said stunt motorcycle riding is a growing issue that has his neighborhood worried about safety and chronic disturbances.
“When you can hear it in the house when the windows and doors are closed, and it’s that far away, then you know it’s bad," Reynolds said. “There’s no rules, nobody is looking out for one another I don’t think. It gets pretty hectic up there and the amount of people that are up there—it's not being safe for the general public out there."
Video obtained by News 5 media partner Akron Beacon Journal shows multiple high performance vehicles and motorcycles burning up the pavement at the Chapel Hill parking lot on July 18. The video shows dozens of people gathering including small children.
Akron Ward 2 Councilman Phil Lombardo said the city now has an action plan that has police on a check-in patrol at certain parking lots after a 23-year-old was killed and 17-year-old seriously injured when gunfire broke out at similar event at the Hawkins Plaza parking lot on July 18, on the city's southwest side.
“Those types of activities attract even more people to the party, so we just don’t want that," Lombardo said. “It can escalate if the offense keeps repeating. I’m concerned for their safety and anyone that gets in the way in the neighborhood. I’m sure it’s fine for some kids to ride their bicycles there, and we don’t want bicycles to get mixed up with motor cars, that wouldn’t be a good mix.
Akron Police Public Information Officer Michael Miller said those involved with the impromptu parking lot parties could face a host of charges including reckless operation, trespassing, open container and more.
Miller said residents who witness these types of gatherings should contact police as soon as possible. Miller encouraged parents to sit down with their children and explain the dangers of gun violence and reckless operation of a motor vehicle.
“When you have young children, that time of night, you have alcohol, you have loud music, you have cars driving recklessly, essentially anyone within the proximity is left at risk,” Miller said. “Have conversations with your young people, and remind them about the dangers, as simple as it sounds, of guns and gun violence. We need residents to let us know about a particular situation, a large congregation of cars and motorcycles, that allows us to get there and try to prevent something like this from happening.”
Anyone with information about the July 18 shooting that took place at Hawkins Plaza parking is being asked to contact the Akron Police Department.