Although the Dayton City Commission candidates differ on a variety of issues, they were united during a recent candidate forum when they were asked about two teens who were fatally shot in a West Dayton garage in August.
Incumbents Chris Shaw and Matt Joseph, and challengers David Esrati and Shenise Turner-Sloss all said they agreed that Javier Harrison and Devin Henderson were murdered.
The investigation into the fatal shooting of the two 17-year-old boys is not yet complete, but there have been growing calls for the shooter to be criminally charged.
Jimmy Harrison, Javier Harrison’s father, said he’s grateful that community members and leaders believe as he does that the shooter broke the law when he shot his son and his friends.
“I have faith and believe there will be justice,” the elder Harrison said. “I pray that he will and strongly believe that he will, because the community knows that he’s guilty.”
MORE: 2 teens killed in Dayton garage were shot in the back
On Aug. 28, a resident in the 800 block of Conners Street heard noises outside his home and went to investigate, police said.
The resident, who police have not identified, allegedly encountered Harrison, Henderson and a third teen, Jashin Gibson, trespassing in his detached garage, and he opened fire with a pistol.
Harrison and Henderson were struck and killed while Gibson fled. The resident called 911 to report the shooting, and he claimed self-defense.
The teens’ relatives and some community members say the shooter should be arrested and charged because the boys did not pose a threat.
MORE: Dayton teen shot, killed by property owner; father speaks out
This news organization first reported that both boys were shot in the back, which some people say is further evidence the shooter was not in danger.
At the candidate forum, moderator Etana Jacobi asked the commission candidates if they agreed with Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley’s September statement that she believed Harrison and Henderson were murdered.
Shaw, who is seeking a second term in office, said he agreed with the mayor, and called the shooting “terrible.”
He said the shooter should be held accountable, and so should state lawmakers for passing legislation that makes it harder to prosecute people responsible for gun violence.
“Who really needs to be accountable for that is the state legislature that puts forward these ridiculous stand your ground-type laws that this person is hiding behind,” he said. “We have to make sure we push back against that.”
MORE: Police chief: State will have to prove if man who fatally shot 2 Dayton teens did not act in self-defense
Esrati, a vocal community activist, said citizens cannot shoot other people for property crimes. Pulling the trigger is only justifiable when there is a risk to body and life, he said.
Esrati criticized authorities for not already putting the shooter in jail.
Turner-Sloss said the shooting is very sad to her as a mother of two black boys. Harrison and Henderson were murdered, she said.
Joseph, who is seeking a fifth term in office, said stand your ground laws are irresponsible and wrong, and lead to violence like this.
Joseph said state and federal laws need to be changed, and this was absolutely murder, because the victims were shot in the back.
The Dayton Police Department is still working to complete its investigation into the shooting, said Greg Flannagan, spokesman with the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s office.
“Once it is complete, they will bring it to our office for review,” he said.
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