Judge concerned recent deadly juvenile gun violence will spill into summer months

Montgomery County Prosecutors have filed a motion asking that a 16-year-old now being held at the Montgomery County Juvenile Justice Center and accused of shooting a man in the head be moved to adult court.
Caption
Montgomery County Prosecutors have filed a motion asking that a 16-year-old now being held at the Montgomery County Juvenile Justice Center and accused of shooting a man in the head be moved to adult court.

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Montgomery County Juvenile Judge Anthony Capizzi seeking solutions with other large county judges.

Local law enforcement believes 10 or more juveniles may have been involved in gun violence in the past month, Montgomery County Juvenile Judge Anthony Capizzi said, and the problem is taking place not just here but in large counties across Ohio.

He’s reached out to officials in Hamilton, Franklin, Lucas, Summit and Cuyahoga counties and is working to form a group that will work together to address youth and gun violence.

“There was unanimous agreement that there’s been a spike in violence in their counties focusing on juveniles and guns,” the judge said. “This year is the worst we’ve had and a number of us are worried about the rest of the summer.”

Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi/ CONTRIBUTED
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Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi/ CONTRIBUTED

Capizzi said as part of the spike, law enforcement are accusing youths of gun violence who otherwise have little to no prior contact with the juvenile court system. He said that’s in contrast to the usual norm, where juvenile defendants accused of a violent crime generally escalated their criminal behavior over a span of time if an intervention wasn’t successful.

“We need to find new ways to predict, and this is what’s very difficult to do, how do you predict a child’s going to commit an act when they’ve never been involved before?” Capizzi said. “I believe by bringing people together from the six counties, we can come together and try to talk it through. Work through some of the challenges, hire some experts that can give us some guidance.”

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The judge said the group is in its early stages but is garnering support. He said the group is considering working with non-profits and trying to get to the bottom of how to stop the violence.

Dayton Police, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Riverside Police have investigated several shootings and four deaths of teenagers and young adults over the past month. Dayton Police have been investigating gun violence associated with at least two groups over the last few weeks. So far, police believe one of the recent homicides and multiple other criminal incidents involve a dispute between those groups, Dayton Police Lt. Jason Hall said.

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. also released a statement saying he was concerned about the number of young people accused and affected by gun violence over the last few weeks.

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Capizzi said law enforcement believes there have been a handful of violent crime cases that involve more than one juvenile suspect. He said there are cases where four or more juveniles could be charged. He also noted that in the cases, there may be juveniles who didn’t shoot a gun but could face consequences for their alleged participation.

Finding the cause of gun violence and the solution to stop it won’t be easy, the judge said, but he said he believes violent entertainment isn’t helping.

“Too many young people are carrying weapons and they don’t understand the extent of damage they are causing,” he said. “I think a lot of young people all over the country have lost a sense of morals. They have lost that a cause creates an effect. In some ways, I think it’s television, movies, games.”

“Sometimes these young people don’t think through that ‘if I shoot somebody, they’re not coming back,’” Capizzi said.

He also said the COVID-19 pandemic has removed kids from school and the structure and mentors it provides. He also noted many kids were locked down and are now getting back together socially.

“Crime last year was down dramatically,” the judge said. “And this year it’s going to come back with a vengeance. I always want to be optimistic, but seeing the way the spring has been as it leads into the summer, there is concern in this community.”


Recent shootings

April 18: Dayton Police say 16-year-old Kamareon D. O’Berry died at Miami Valley Hospital after being shot near Westwood Elementary School on Northland Avenue.

April 24: A 15-year-old and a 17-year-old were shot and injured on Community Drive and Old Troy Pike in Riverside. Authorities said the shooting was not a random incident.

April 27: 25-year-old Kirby Shoffner is shot in the 600 block of Leland Avenue. Shoffner later dies. 16-year-old Carmelo Glaze faces murder and other charges in connection to the shooting.

May 8: Kameron Dewberry, 18, was shot and killed in the 400 block of West Hudson Avenue after an argument, police say. Dwayne J. Jones Jr., 18, was arrested and indicted on a murder charge.

May 12: A 17-year-old boy was shot and critically injured on Kumler Avenue. That investigation led to an officer-involved shooting on Lexington Avenue. Police were searching for another 17-year-old suspected in the original shooting.

May 12: Three teens died in a car crash that reportedly stemmed from an attempted carjacking in Riverside. Authorities say the man the teens tried to carjack did not comply and followed the boys who eventually crashed on Airway Road. A fourth teen has been charged with aggravated robbery.

Riverside police said the crash is connected to the April 24 shooting and other shootings in Dayton.

May 13: 15-year-old J’Yon Kolby-Lee Manson-Coleman was shot and killed in Harrison Twp. He was found dead in a vehicle in the 3600 block of Michigan Avenue.

May 16: The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office says a juvenile girl was playing outside a Harrison Twp. home when she was grazed by a bullet on her forehead and hand. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office investigators responded to the 1900 block of Palisades Drive and learned there was a large fight in the area before the shooting.

May 17: 19-year-old Adrian Cook died and a 17-year-old was injured after a Monday night shooting at a gas station. Authorities later arrested 18-year-old Aaron Lee Cook. He has not been formally charged.