Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Shooting of boy rattles 2nd Ward

11-year-old wounded along street in daylight

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Alice Brown, 80, who lives at Front and Walnut streets in Hamilton, talks about the shooting of an 11- year-old boy in Riverside Homes on Monday.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
HAMILTON - This time, Alice Brown didn't stay in her well-worn, vinyl easy chair.

Brown, who has lived across from what she calls "the projects" for about half her 80 years, said she usually ignores the crackle of gunfire in the city's Second Ward area just south of downtown. "I sit right here where I am, in this old raggedy chair, and don't pay much attention to it," she said. "I feel very safe now, with the police around here all the time."

But Monday was different.

As an episode of The Guiding Light aired on Brown's TV set, the sounds of men arguing seemed close to her South Front Street home. So did the gunfire. "I jumped up and looked out this window, and I saw them running," she said.

Later, Brown learned an 11-year-old boy had been wounded in the crossfire in Riverside Homes. Shot in the chest, Jaermel Kaiser remained hospitalized in fair condition as police obtained arrest warrants for two suspects Tuesday. One turned himself in while the other remained at large.

Even in an area accustomed to violence, it's a crime that stands out.

"I've lived in public housing all my life, and a lot of things have happened, but never like what happened yesterday," LaRonda Ray said Tuesday. "People are upset . ... It's different when a child is involved."

Ray said her 11-year-old daughter, a playmate of Jaermel, easily could have been shot, too. The little girl had just bought a bag of potato chips at Touch of Pizza, on South Front Street, when bullets started flying. "Some guy pushed her back inside," Ray said.

Her daughter realized she could have been killed. "She kept saying, 'Mommy, I could've been shot. Then I couldn't play basketball,' " Ray said.

Ray, who turns 38 today, said she plans to celebrate her birthday "being thankful that none of my children got hurt."

Indignation over Jaermel's shooting probably motivated witnesses to cooperate with investigators, police said. Officers were able to quickly identify two suspects.

But Lt. Scott Scrimizzi also credits years of community policing - a program in which officers cultivate relationships with citizens - with playing a big part in obtaining information from people who might otherwise clam up.

"Everybody that we've talked to has been cooperative," he said. "I think it shows our efforts in the Second Ward have finally been paying off."

Officers used to get "little-to-no cooperation" when investigating crimes in that area of the city, Scrimizzi said.

As police have increased their presence and citizens have become more cooperative, crime has dropped, he said. "We still have people getting shot down there, but it's nothing like it used to be," Scrimizzi said.

Officers obtained warrants for the arrest of Rashodd Anton Jordan, 23, and Rico Rodriguez Mace, 20. Jordan came to police headquarters with his lawyer late Tuesday afternoon. Police were continuing to look for Mace. Police have not said which man may have fired the shot that struck Jaermel.

Both suspects listed addresses in other parts of the city; Ray said outsiders cause much of the trouble in public housing areas.

Ray is especially bothered that Jaermel had just walked across Walnut Drive toward a friend's house, and was a few feet away from the home's front door when the bullet hit him.

Ray said she's convinced that the area can become safer only if residents realize the importance of helping police.

"They can't do it alone," Ray said. "It's time to stand up and do the right thing. You know it's bad when you can't even let your kids play outside without worrying about them being shot."


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