Grand jury indicts 13 people in teen shooting

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A dozen people, both adults and juveniles, are at the Mahoning County Jail after police said they were all involved in the events leading up to the shooting death of a Youngstown teenager on Sunday.

During a news conference on Friday, authorities held up mugshots of a number of those arrested over the past 24 hours after eight people were secretly indicted by a Mahoning County grand jury, along with one other adult who has not yet been arrested, and four teenagers.

Police and prosecutors said the incident on Winona Avenue on the city’s south side started as an argument between rivaling families and quickly grew into mobs of more than 30 people shouting at each other, with two women in the group recording the whole thing on cell phones. The fight ended in gunfire, leaving Shawn Cortez, 17, dead.

“You see group that had gone to the house start to retreat and the other group pursuing them and then you hear a volley of shots from the group that had been retreating, followed by, we believe, two separate volleys of shots from the individuals who were then pursuing,” Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Marty Desmond said.

Although prosecutors are not sharing the videos with the media, they said they were both graphic and disturbing.

“The language that they are taunting back and forth, challenging each other to fight and then seeing the young man get shot,” Desmond said.

David Jenkins, 17, has been charged with firing the shot that killed Cortez. He is charged with two counts of murder and one count each of felonious assault, aggravated riot and involuntary manslaughter, all with firearm specifications.

The suspect’s old brother, Dejon Jenkins, is facing complicity charges for giving him the murder weapon. He also faces a charge of aggravated riot.

Adult suspects charged:

  • David Belton, 32: Aggravated riot, involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault, with firearm specification.
  • Carl Fleeton, 41: Aggravated riot, involuntary manslaughter, weapons under disability, with firearm specifications.
  • Dequann Fleeton, 20: Aggravated riot, involuntary manslaughter, firearm specification.
  • Rontrell White, 25: Aggravated riot, involuntary manslaughter, firearm specification.
  • Rouzje Ezell, 20: Aggravated riot, involuntary manslaughter, firearm specification.
  • Carlisha Hammonds, 19: Aggravated riot, involuntary manslaughter, obstructing justice.
  • Carla Higgins, 46: Obstructing justice.
  • Adult suspect who has not been arrested, 20: Aggravated riot, involuntary manslaughter, firearm specification.

Juveniles charged: (Juveniles cannot be named, only initials and age can be reported)

  • T.L., 17: Aggravated riot, involuntary manslaughter.
  • T.L., 15: Aggravated riot, involuntary manslaughter.
  • C.T., 16: Aggravated riot, involuntary manslaughter.

Authorities said a number of the suspects had been victims of crimes themselves.

“Two that we know of for sure had family members killed or shot last year. Yet they were the ones that were egging and inciting this on. So they know the destruction this causes family and friends and a community. Yet they were encouraging it, baiting it, and actually inciting it,” Youngstown City Prosecutor Dana Lantz said.

Police Chief Robin Lees said different divisions within the department worked with other agencies to identify all who were involved in the incident. He and other city leaders called the news conference to announce the arrests and stress the unified effort of the city to investigate and prosecute all suspects involved in violent crimes.

“We will no longer focus and just bring to justice the individual who is the trigger man. Everybody associated with it will be prosecuted,” Lees said.

Police said multiple shots were fired during the incident and several shell casings were found in the area. Cortez was rushed to St. Elizabeth Health Center in a private vehicle, but was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains and Youngstown Mayor John McNally echoed the same feeling that violent crime will not be tolerated in the city of Youngstown.

“We are in this together, and we will stand together to stop this,” Gains said.

McNally said the Youngstown Police Department will continue to ensure that everyone who works, lives and visits the city of Youngstown can do so peacefully.

“Violence and retaliation must stop and won’t be tolerated,” McNally said. “If you are a shooter, you will be charged.”

The adult suspects will be arraigned in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday.

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