Shots fired in Blacklick Estates recently near the corner of Harbor and Clearwater drives in Madison Township found neighbors running for cover before turning to the police.
However, residents indicated that the response from law enforcement was not what they hoped for and they’re asking the township for help.
On Aug. 12, at approximately 10:30 p.m., a resident was outside on his porch when he noticed a large group of teenagers walking down the middle of the road. The juveniles started knocking over trash cans when they were told to stop. The resident said the young males shouted at him and were belligerent before they physically confronted him in his own yard.
"I started to go inside until I saw they were still approaching me. So, thinking of my family, I stepped back out the door to protect them," wrote a resident in a report distributed to the Madison Township trustees on Aug. 20. "I didn’t want to give those boys any opportunity to get in my house around my wife and kids. When I stepped outside, they all ran down the street and one of them pulled out a gun and fired it five times and then took off. When the police showed up, I explained to them what happened, gave a description of what the shooter was wearing, and what one of the other boys was wearing."
According to an eyewitness report obtained by another resident, Rose Phillips, there were other observers, including one young woman who knew two of the individuals causing the disturbance, and officers were given the names and locations of suspects.
Stated another resident, "After speaking with the police, I was very disappointed with how the incident was handled and how one of the officers had spoken to me and my wife. I felt like they didn’t want to do anything. In my opinion, they just blew me off and everyone who were trying to help by giving locations of where they were spotted and names of some of the kids involved."
In the Madison Township Ohio Uniform Incident Report filed by reporting Officer Keith Mallory and approved by Sgt. Michael Ratliff, the offense was listed as recovered property. A single oral statement only noted listed times and date, and that the reportee stated "that persons unknown shot several firearm rounds (40 caliber) into the air in front of the listed address (Clearwater Drive)."
Six spent shell casings at an estimated value of $1 were recovered at the scene. Only one suspect was noted on a supplement, an unknown juvenile, male, age 14-16, 90-150 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. No other suspects were recorded, despite residents’ contention they provided multiple descriptions and possible names and locations to officers.
Phillips told the Madison Township trustees at their Aug. 20 meeting that the first policeman on the scene was Mallory, who was immediately given information on the incident. She said a video record of the response clearly indicates a description was given. Ratliff then arrived on scene and Phillips said a young female gave him descriptions and names of some of the boys.
Phillips then reported Mallory told Ratliff he was going to check out a sighting of the group on Sedalia, but was told to take a witness statement instead. Phillips later contacted Capt. Jim Glasure and asked why no official statements were taken at the scene.
"He told me there were statements attached to the report," stated Phillips. "After reviewing the report, it was only one verbal statement. Only one statement was taken out of the 20 or so residents who either witnessed the incident or just after. I informed Capt. Glasure that I had spoken to the residents and had requested they write a statement regarding what each had witnessed.
"He told me, if I received any additional information, he would be glad to look into it. I informed Capt. Glasure that in a seven house block, there had to be 25 to 30 children where the shots were fired. I asked Capt. Glasure if Madison Township would be responsible if one of the children in the area was shot. Capt. Glasure stated that patrols in the area had been increased."
However, in speaking on behalf of other residents, Phillips contends neighbors have not noticed an increase in law enforcement presence, but criminal activity is on the rise.
"In 37 years, I’ve seen deterioration between the number of houses, foreclosures, arsons, lack of respect from kids, and lack of response from law enforcement," commented Phillips. "Criminals have no fear of the police department because they’re not around."
Trustee Jim Hummel told Phillips resident concerns are valid and the board takes the issue seriously, but the incident needs to go through the investigative process, despite questions raised by neighbors regarding the thoroughness of officer response.
Hummel also pointed out the majority of township police patrols are in and around the Blacklick Estates area.
"We’ve had police officers lose their jobs because they didn’t do their jobs," emphasized Trustee Dennis White, "but this has to go through due process. If a particular officer hasn’t done their job, it will be dealt with."
White also said he would like to put more patrols on the streets, but added, in the 22 years he’s served as a trustee, the township placed a half dozen police levies on the ballot, but only one passed.
"It is being investigated," said Madison Township Police Chief Greg Ryan, regarding the shooting incident. "It is being looked in to."