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Cincinnati shootings: ‘A double whammy’

I figured this would be a good time for killers and shooters to take a break, considering we are all trying to come out alive during the worst pandemic in a century.

Ohio has lost more than 500 souls to COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Nearly 40 virus deaths have been reported in Hamilton County. Yet, Cincinnati is in the midst of its worst string of shootings in years, including six double-homicides this month. Cincinnati Police Department data show that from March 25 to April 19, there were 41 fatal and non-fatal shootings.

“Not only are we dealing with the pandemic, but we’re dealing with probably the worst 28 days of gun violence that we’ve seen in the last four years,” CPD Assistant Police Chief Paul Neudigate said after an April 15 shooting in South Cumminsville that killed 29year-old David Norwood.

Dr. Amy Acton, Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted congratulate us almost daily for staying home and flattening the curve. The unintended consequence is that there are fewer people to witness a crime, police have told us.

On April 11, Jasmine Malone, 29, and Jeffrey Duke II, 33, were shot in the backs of their heads in their car. Prosecutors believe the killings were related to a drug deal. The day before, four people – two men and two women – were shot and killed. Police arrested one man in connection to all four killings.

There is another caveat. Of shooting victims since March 25, 85% were African Americans, part of a disturbing narrative with complex origins. Pastor Ennis Tait and Mitch Morris, both civic leaders and peace advocates who are often on the streets, predicted that crime would increase in our community as stay-at-home orders took effect. In a recent Facebook Live event, they discussed a myriad of reasons including lack of economic opportunity and societal traumas.

Stay-at-home orders have meant their access to people has become limited, and their intercessory roles reduced.

“This is a double whammy,” Morris said, citing the impact of COVID-19 and community gun violence.

Reports have told us that African-Americans are contracting and dying from COVID-19 at a disproportionate rate, likely stemming from longstanding health disparities, including health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure.

Meanwhile, the shootings are a slap in the face, first to the families and loved ones of shooting victims, and in the age of COVID-19, for many others: those who may not be able to attend the funerals of their mother or grandfather, those who couldn’t be there with their loved ones who died at the hospital. The shooters dishonor overtaxed medical professionals already trying to save COVID-19 victims but then who may have to tend to patients suffering from bullet wounds.

At this writing, our community is averaging nearly two shootings a day, which is maddening.

At some point, things will return to a new normal. The wounds from the novel coronavirus will lessen. And we will have an opportunity to understand its disproportionate impact on our vulnerable populations. Concurrently, we need to support efforts to understand and prevent crime in our communities as well.

Byron McCauley is an Enquirer columnist. Email: bmccauley@gannett. com. Twitter: @byronmccauley. Phone: (513) 768-8565.

OHIO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION/PROVIDED

Byron McCauley

Columnist USA TODAY NETWORK

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