COLUMBUS, Ohio — During Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Mike DeWine addressed the surge of gun violence across the state that has left 17 people dead since Aug. 14, including an eight-year-old girl from Akron.
DeWine said that in less than a week, the state has recorded an unofficial tally from news reports of 56 people who had been shot in Ohio, with 17 fatalities. Among those fatalities is eight-year-old Mikayla Pickett.
Just before midnight on Aug. 14, someone opened fire at a home in the 700 block of Roselle Avenue where a birthday party was taking place. Mikayla was struck, and then transported to a nearby hospital where she succumbed to her injuries, authorities said.
DeWine discussed several of the shootings and specifically addressed Mikayla’s homicide during the brefing.
“Little Mikayla Pickett, little 8-year-old girl killed in Akron, will never graduate from high school, never walk down the aisle, never know the joy of being a parent,” DeWine said. “She and her family were robbed of all the incredible joys that life has to offer. It’s just absolutely unbelievable. Why? Was someone angry? Was someone looking to settle a score with someone at the party? Well we don’t know, but it’s a horrible, horrible tragedy.”
The governor said from talking to law enforcement that many of the cases were committed with handguns, which if similar to past incidents, are many times stolen, illegally obtained and fired by a person who is not legally allowed to have a gun because they are a convicted felon.
DeWine said the state has legislation pending with the General Assembly to keep criminals most likely to commit gun violence off the streets.
“If we want to reduce gun violence we have to deal with the relatively small number of people in our cities, in our communities, who carry out this violence week after week,” DeWine said. “We could remove them—and if we had removed them, maybe some of these children would be alive today.”
The bill, pending in the General Assembly, would increase penalties for those who commit a crime with a gun or are found carrying a weapon if they are legally prohibited from doing so, according to DeWine.
If passed, it would also increase the penalty for knowingly providing a gun to a minor or someone legally prohibited from owning guns, DeWine said.
According to DeWine, the legislation would ensure that warrants on dangerous offenders are in law enforcement databases across the country so that law enforcement agencies across the country and state “have the information they need to arrest those who have committed violent crimes.”
The governor said that he does not believe the legislation is controversial.
“These are people who are not allowed to have a gun. I think there’s a general consensus in society that those individuals who are not allowed to have a gun and are repeat violent offenders need to be removed from society.”
In the case of Mikaya, a $2,500 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for her death.