CLEVELAND — A woman and two children, ages 6 and 2, are confirmed dead in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood near where a man was found shot to death earlier Tuesday morning, according to the medical examiner.
Police and EMS responded at around 8 a.m. to an open field next to 3708 East 63rd Street, where David Cousin Jr., 35, was pronounced dead at the scene from gunshot wounds to the head and chest.
Officers canvassed the area where Cousin was found. Authorities forced entry into a nearby home where there was a smell of smoke coming from inside. There was evidence of arson on scene, including the discovery of accelerants.
Officers found two children, a 2-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy, and a 25-year-old woman.
Police said the 25-year-old woman was found with gunshot wounds to the back and the stomach. On scene, police learned that the 2-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy had died possibly due to carbon monoxide smoke inhalation.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office will determine the final cause of death for all the victims. It is unknown the relation the deceased had with one another.
Police said they have persons of interest and they are working to track down them down. The investigation is still early on and authorities are working to notify the next-of-kin.
Chief Calvin Williams called this a "heinous" crime during a news conference Tuesday. Williams urged anyone with information to call the homicide unit at (216) 623-5464. He also said people could call 911 if they knew of an immediate person of interest or, if they wanted to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 25-CRIME.
"This is something that shouldn’t happen in our city," Williams said. "This is a terrible tragedy. You know, there are a lot of families enjoying this weekend and families going through some things. So we need to help each other."
"You can’t get any more horrific than when you have young children who get involved in a homicide like this," Ward 12 Councilman Tony Brancatelli said.
Brancatelli described the neighborhood as one that was close, with neighbors engaged with one another and a strong block club.
"You can go up and down the street and see how clean it is and how active they are involved and the demolitions that have cleared out the worst properties. We’ve renovated some houses," Brancatelli said. "So I think we have a long way to go on this investigation. Truly unfortunate and truly horrific. But we have a strong neighborhood and a strong block club and we’ll get past this."
Mayor Frank Jackson also offered his condolences to the victims' families.
"It’s always difficult when innocence is lost, in particular with the two children," Jackson said. "Our intent is to find out who did it as quickly as we can and wrap it up and bring some justice to the situation."
Cleveland fire, including the arson unit, was on scene.
When Cousins' body was discovered this morning, it marked the fifth homicide and the 25th shooting since the Fourth of July.
The fatal shooting remains under investigation.