Youngstown police probe 2 South Side homicides

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown police are investigating two murders in less than a week after not having one all year.

Before Saturday, there had not been a homicide in the city for 87 days.

The first murder happened just after midnight Saturday when Dejuan Neely, 20, was shot in a car on South Avenue near Interstate 680.

“It is still under investigation right now. There are some leads we are trying to follow up on, but that is all we have,” said Youngstown Police Lt. Douglas Bobovnyik.

Bobovnyik said Neely was taken to the hospital and later died on Monday.Just a few weekends ago, Jaquez Brown was shot in the head March 15 while sitting in his car in a parking lot at the corner of South Avenue and Dewey Avenue, also on the South Side.

The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force is offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest of Dashonti Baker, 22, of Youngstown, in connection to that shooting. Baker is wanted on a charge of attempted murder.

“We are not sure whether these two are connected or not, or if they are related in any way,” Bobovnyik said.

And on Tuesday morning, police said Maurise Kerns, 24, was found shot to death on the porch of a home in the 500 block of Idora Avenue, at the corner of Utilis Avenue, which is off Glenwood Avenue. Police are looking for the shooter and searched an SUV that was left in the driveway.

Kerns shooting police report

But an old problem is facing police as they are having trouble getting witnesses and people with information to talk to them.

“We lack cooperation and we are having a little difficulty coming up with suspects and additional information at this time,” said Youngstown Police Chief Robin Lees.

Lees said anyone who is uncomfortable talking to the police can call Crimestoppers at 330-746-CLUE to report any information.

The question is why the sudden spike? Police think some of it has to do with weather.

“We cannot deny that weather has probably had an impact on a downward trend on some of our more serious criminal activity,” Lees said.

Bobovnyik agreed.

“No, it is not unusual, especially when the weather breaks, more people are on the streets,” he said.

But Lees said it is not just the weather that has kept the numbers low. It is the work of the police department.

“We have seized over 80 guns since Jan. 1. I think the proactive stance of the department and the overall performance of those officers in the street on a day to day basis also has played a role in trending those numbers down,” Lees said.

Both murders still are under investigation.

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