“I know a lot of people probably think my son died because he’s a thug or whatever, but that wasn’t the case,” Jerome McDowell said of his 23-year-old son, who died Monday night in what Trotwood police called a “gun battle” on Olive Road.
“My son wasn’t no thug. He was changing his life around.”
RELATED: Homicides also up in Dayton
Trotwood has seen nine homicides — one vehicular and eight involving weapons — in 2016. That’s more than the eight combined from 2013, 2014 and 2015.
“Our numbers are normally way lower, but it appears that this year has been an exceptional year in this region,” Trotwood police Chief Erik Wilson said. “Because across the region, the numbers are all up.”
Wilson said Jerron McDowell was found shot multiple times about 9:30 p.m. Monday and taken to Good Samaritan Hospital, where he died. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office ruled his death a homicide due to a perforating gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Wilson said an initial investigation found multiple people were in the area Monday night where an altercation occurred and several gunshots were fired from multiple weapons.
“The parties all involved were at that location communicating with each other and then, after a few minutes they were together, the shootings occurred,” Wilson said, adding that all of the city’s 2016 homicides were among people who knew each other, not random violence. “The community is safe.”
Moraine police were dispatched to the 2600 block of Creekwood Circle around 6:10 a.m. for a vehicle parked with multiple bullet holes in it that may have been involved.
Jerome McDowell said he had a message for the shooter or shooters of his son, who he said had a heart of gold.
“I don’t know what’s the reason for this for you all to do it to my son, but my son did not deserve this,” he said. “I just hope that somebody would step forward and say, ‘Look, I’m the one that did this’ just so me and my family can get some closure.”
McDowell said his son made good on his promise to get a job and restart his life after being sentenced to five years for possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
A sentencing memorandum from his federal case showed that prosecutors said McDowell was part of the BPN (Bottle Poppin' Network)/Zone 6 gang, but he denied being a member of what law enforcement has called a group of family and friends that doesn't claim just one physical location.
“Mr. McDowell does not deny that he spent time with the members of that group or that he was present at locations where the group would congregate,” attorney Nicholas Gounaris wrote in January 2014. “He realizes that he will need to change his ways, change his friends and to begin a path of lawfulness.”
Wilson said he was just at a Community Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence (CIRGV) meeting Monday morning. And while the chief said he didn’t have information to suspect gang involvement in the shooting, he wasn’t ruling it out.
McDowell’s father had a message for parents of at-risk youth.
“To all the parents that still have their children, all I can tell them is get into their life, talk to your kids,” he said. “If they’re in the streets, try to get them to change their life and get out of the street, because this is the result that you get: Grieving parents, grieving families.”
A federal prison website indicates McDowell spent time at the Cincinnati residential re-entry facility before his planned release of Nov. 14, 2016.
A federal prosecutor’s office spokesman couldn’t account for McDowell’s early release. A Bureau of Prisons official did not return a message seeking comment.
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