(CINCINNATI) — Two children, ages 6 and 8, were in critical condition after getting caught in the crossfire of a Cincinnati gunfight that also injured two teenagers, police said.
The shooting erupted just after 6 p.m. on Saturday near a vacant lot in the northeast Cincinnati neighborhood of East Westwood.
Cincinnati Police Department officials said at least two gunmen, possibly more, were involved in a shootout near a vacant lot the two children were playing in when they were wounded. As of Sunday afternoon, no arrests have been made.
Both children were listed in critical condition at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, police said. Their names were not immediately released.
“I think when you have children involved, it changes the whole dynamic here. It shakes the conscience of a neighborhood when you have children hit,” Lt. Col. Mike John of the Cincinnati Police Department said in a news conference near the scene of the shooting. “These aren’t people engaged in high-risk activity. They’re just little kids.”
The two teenagers, ages 18 and 19, suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were being treated at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, John said.
“We are all outraged that two children have been caught in the crossfire of a shooting last night,” Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said in a statement Sunday. “Our whole city prays for their recovery.”
Cranley said police investigating the shooting have some “strong leads” in the investigation.
“We are confident the police will bring these violent criminals to justice,” Cranley said.
John said at least two suspects fled the scene on foot. He said multiple shell casings from different caliber weapons were recovered at the scene by investigators.
“We think there are multiple people firing shots here,” John told ABC affiliate station WCPO-TV in Cincinnati. “It’s at least two, but it could be more. We can tell that by the shell casings left at the scene. So, multiple weapons used. At least two we can confirm, but, like I said, it’s possible there were other shooters, as well.”
A motive for the shooting remains under investigation.
Rodney Christian, a local community activist and president of the East Westwood Community Council, told reporters at the scene of the shooting on Saturday that “enough is enough.”
Christian called on police and city government leaders to join with community leaders in working on something “big time” to curb gun violence in the city.
“If this doesn’t wake you up, I don’t know what will,” Christian said of Saturday’s quadruple shooting. “We have to do something about this. I’m just saying we’ve got a problem. We’re in the red, and summer is going to get hotter, and we need to do something about this.”
The shootings came as Cincinnati has seen a 20% drop in homicides in the first five months of this year. The city has recorded 32 homicides this year, compared to 40 this time last year, according to data released by the police department.
Cincinnati recorded a record 94 homicides in 2020, a 28.7% increase from 2019. There were 486 shootings in Cincinnati during 2020.
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