Two people were killed, and three others were injured in a shooting on June 14 in Akron, Ohio. Police confirmed Thursday that the killing was not a hate crime but rather a case of mistaken identity. A group of white suspects in a dark SUV opened fire on black victims who were having a barbecue at a home on Brittain Road.
The suspects, according to the police, mistook the residence for another one in the area where they had a feud with the owners over narcotics and cash. The authorities are appealing to the public for assistance in locating the criminals.
The shooting happened at Akron’s Brittain Road residence at about 10:30 p.m. on Monday. Four guys and a woman drove up in a dark SUV and started shooting at the residents and onlookers, according to the police. All the victims were black, but the accused were white, leading some to believe the shooting was motivated by racism.
The police stated the suspects were seeking another person in the area but had the wrong address. After the shooting, the suspects ran from the site and were not found. The police claim they know who some of the suspects are and are actively trying to track them down.
Kiana Welch, 24, and Brandon Varner, 34, lost their lives in the shooting. Varner and Welch were declared dead, but Welch passed away. Jaion Bivins, 20, Janasia George, 18, and Laionna Varner, 14. Were the additional victims of the incident.
While Bivins and George have been released from the hospital after receiving treatment, Laionna Varner is still in stable condition. The victims were family and friends who had gathered at the home for a barbecue. Police claimed they had no prior knowledge of the suspects or their intended victims.
With assistance from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Marshals Service, the Akron Police Department began looking into the incident. They conducted interviews, gathered evidence, analyzed surveillance footage, and pursued leads to determine the perpetrators and their motivation.
According to the police, the suspects knew another Brittain Road resident who wasn’t present at the time of the shooting and had been involved in an ongoing conflict with them. Police believe a drug and money dispute sparked the violence.
According to the police, the culprits likely assumed their intended victim lived at the residence where shots were fired. They claim no proof that the shooting was racially motivated or connected to recent shootings in Akron.
Akron Police Chief Kenneth Ball called a press conference on Thursday to provide an update on the ongoing investigation. He thanked the law enforcement agencies involved in the research and sympathized with the victims’ loved ones. So, He also pleaded with anyone who saw the shooting or knew the perpetrators to come forward and help authorities.
He warned that anyone who aided or sheltered the suspects would also be held accountable under the law. The community, he pleaded with, should not resort to violence or retribution but instead have faith that the perpetrators would be brought to justice. Saying, “We are requesting quiet,” he expected a serene goal. We want peace. Fair treatment is what we want.
Akron has seen an increase in gun violence this year, so the shooting shocked the community. So far in 2020, there have been 28 homicides and 145 shootings in Akron, Ohio, according to police records. This is a significant increase from the 18 homicides and 88 shootings recorded during the same period in 2019.
Many locals have spoken out against the violence, expressing shock and sadness at the number of lives lost. Since the shooters were white and the victims were black, some have argued that the incident should have been classified as a hate crime or a terrorist act. In memory of the deaths and to call for justice, some community leaders and activists held vigils and rallies.
They demanded that issues like poverty, racism, trauma, mental health, and substance misuse, all of which contribute to violence, be given more attention and funding. They also called for unity and mutual aid during this time of crisis. “We have to stand together as one,” said Pastor Roderick Pounds of Second Baptist Church, who conducted a prayer vigil on Wednesday night. There must be love among us. We must all keep an eye out for one other.
The Next Steps
Police are still looking for the shooters and are appealing to the public for information. They’ve put out a picture of the suspect’s SUV and asked for help from the crowd in locating it or identifying the drivers. The authorities are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that helps them catch and charge the perpetrators.
The police have also appealed for eyewitnesses or anyone possessing video footage to come forward. They stressed the importance of any clue, no matter how tiny. The police have promised the public that they are making every effort to apprehend the perpetrators and stop any more violence. They have indicated that patrols and surveillance have been stepped up in the area.
Two people were killed, and three others were injured in a shooting in Akron on June 14. Police have indicated it was not a hate crime but rather a case of mistaken identity. The suspects, still at large, mistook the residence for another one in the area where they had an ongoing dispute with the owners over narcotics and cash.
All the victims were African-American and unknown to the suspects or their intended target. They were perhaps family or friends having a barbecue. Some suspects have been identified, and police focus on tracking them down. And they’re offering money for tips that lead to their capture and prosecution. They have also encouraged the neighborhood to help them solve the crime by increasing patrols and surveillance.