Shootings Surge Over Past Month, Including Teen Deaths

The deaths of two 14-year-olds a week apart could mean stricter curfew enforcement, police say

Jul 8, 2019 at 12:16 pm
click to enlarge Storrs Street in Lower Price Hill, where Cameron Franklin was shot and killed July 6. - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Storrs Street in Lower Price Hill, where Cameron Franklin was shot and killed July 6.

While violent crime in Cincinnati is down overall this year, the past month has seen a sharp uptick in shootings and homicides — including back-to-back shooting deaths of two young teenagers. 

Officials could ramp up curfew enforcement efforts in response.

Anthony Hinton, 14, died from gunshot wounds about 6 a.m. June 30 near Grant Park in Over-the-Rhine, becoming the city's 14th homicide victim in 30 days and capping off the deadliest month in Cincinnati in at least two decades. Twenty-seven other people were injured in shootings in June.

The start of a new month has brought more violence.

Around midnight on July 6, someone shot 14-year-old Cameron Franklin in the head on Storrs Street in Lower Price Hill. He died at the scene. Franklin's family says the boy knew Hinton and was mourning his friend's death, but does not believe Franklin was the intended target of the shooting that took his life.

"It was rough," Patricia Franklin, Cameron's mother, told WLWT. "It was hard. It was a long week trying to get him through it."

In between those two tragic deaths, a shooting on the Fourth of July killed 18-year-old Bryan Messer in West Price Hill.

Authorities say they have arrested a suspect in that case, though no arrests have been made in Franklin and Hinton's shootings. Cincinnati Police have arrested suspects in about half the killings that occurred in June.

The killings come in a year when violence is otherwise down in the city. Overall, Cincinnati this year had seen 30 homicides as of June 29. That's less than the city's average of 34 shootings per year over the past three years and the 36 shootings the city had seen by June 29 last year.  

Violent crime often spikes in the summer months for reasons that aren't entirely clear. 

"It is important to note that 2018 was the lowest we’ve had in a decade, and this year is lower so far," Isaac told Cincinnati City Council late last month about violent crime rates. "Although we have experienced a spike in the past few weeks, our numbers are lower than they have been in a decade.”

Despite the overall reduction in gun violence so far this year, elected officials are mulling responses to this summer's historic spike in shootings. 

One of those will be ShotSpotter, a technology that uses up to 25 sensors per square mile on rooftops and utility poles to detect gunshots and relays the location of the shots to police in under a minute. So far, Cincinnati has installed ShotSpotter in parts of Avondale, Corryville, Mount Auburn and Walnut Hills. The city plans to place the technology in Price Hill in the next month. The technology costs about $200,000 a year in Avondale and is expected to cost a similar amount in Price Hill.

Officials have credited ShotSpotter with a 50-percent drop in shootings occurred after its introduction in Avondale. But some in other cities have questioned whether the tool is effective, and at least one municipality has ceased using the technology after it missed some gunshots.

Another, more immediate response: potential changes to curfew enforcement, given that some victims of recent homicides have been minors. 

Currently, minors under 16 can't be alone in public after 10 p.m. and those under 18 can't be out and about after midnight. Those curfew rules run until 5 a.m. 

Police could step up efforts to make sure young people are abiding by those rules. 

“With the continuing tragic deaths of juveniles due to gun violence, we will be discussing more vigorous enforcement of the existing curfew law and whether that will be neighborhood/incident specific or a city-wide, all encompassing effort,” Cincinnati Assistant Police Chief Paul Neudigate said in a statement.

Several Cincinnati City Councilmembers and community representatives will hold a hearing tonight at 6 p.m at the Evanston Recreation Center to discuss ways to stem gun violence in Cincinnati neighborhoods.