Less than 24 hours after city officials joined a rally calling for tighter restrictions on gun ownership, police said one man is dead and a second wounded in a shooting Thursday afternoon in West Akron.
The names of the victims were not immediately released, and no suspects had been arrested, a police spokesman said shortly after the incident, which occurred about 2 p.m. at Packard Drive and La Belle Avenue near Diagonal Road.
Akron Police Lt. David Whiddon, who was directing a heavy police response and investigation at the scene, said two men who had been quarreling jumped out of a maroon SUV that had stopped in the intersection.
A 24-year-old man was fatally shot with a silver, .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun during the argument, and the second man was taken to Akron General Medical Center with a gunshot wound, Whiddon said. The wounded man’s condition was not known.
A witness who lives on La Belle said he heard four or five shots.
Whiddon said one of the men in the struggle tossed the gun into a storm sewer, directly under a street sign post.
Police from the department’s marked Crime Scene Unit, with help from a city work crew, recovered the weapon from the sewer. The gun was placed inside a brown paper evidence bag and tagged for identification.
Whiddon said the SUV was unmanned at one point during the struggle, but a third man, who apparently was involved in the incident, got back inside and drove away from the scene, heading west on La Belle. Investigators had several leads about the SUV’s whereabouts, Whiddon said.
At least nine yellow evidence cards, each one numbered, were visible in the street as detectives remained on the scene two hours later.
Dozens of neighborhood residents and children sat outside the yellow police tape that ringed the intersection, watching investigators work.
Police Chief James Nice said he was “95 percent sure” that detectives had identified the deceased man and the wounded man as the shooting suspects. Robbery may have been the motive behind the shooting, the chief said.
Gary Smith, 45, who lives in the 900 block of La Belle, said he was inside his home when he heard a commotion, then saw the shooting unfold moments after he walked down his porch to the side lawn.
“Two men were struggling out in the street, and one guy shot himself trying to shoot the other guy. And basically, that was about it,” Smith said.
He did not recognize either man. “But I’m under the assumption they were younger men,” he said.
The men were probably both in their 20s, he said.
The shots occurred only seconds apart, Smith said.
“I’m pretty sure only one of them had a gun, because you would have definitely heard it if they were shooting at one another. They were just out there wrestling and tussling and struggling,” he said.
Summit County Councilwoman Tamela Lee, D-5, who lives nearby, said it appears the man who had the gun “actually shot himself.”
Lee said she attended Wednesday’s Grace Park rally with Mayor Don Plusquellic and was among the area officials who spoke out at the event, called “No More Names: National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence.”
“All these guns on the street! We have to do something about the guns on the street. I’m happy that no innocent bystanders or children were shot,” Lee said, “because this is a busy corner with a neighborhood store.
“There are just too many guns on the street, and this is what happens. One to 2 percent of the bad people make it dangerous for the 99 percent of the good people who live in this neighborhood.”
Both Lee and Smith, the witness to the shooting, said that the Packard-LaBelle neighborhood, with a Bi-Rite convenience store at the opposite corner, has not been a frequent trouble spot.
“I wouldn’t say trouble breaks out here a lot,” Smith said. “You know, we’re just people trying to take care of their business, trying to live among each other. But if you get a few idiots out here sometimes, random things like this do happen.
“You just have to hope you’re not in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Smith said.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or at email@example.com.