COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A man and two children were fatally shot at an apartment complex in Columbus in what a detective called “a targeted assassination,” prompting an intensive police search for the suspects. Police Chief Elaine Bryant urged people who know what happened to come forward.
The shooting took place early Tuesday night on the city’s southeast side.
The three victims were seated in a vehicle when two armed suspects approached and opened fire “without any apparent warning or provocation,” police said.
Police said a third suspect drove the shooters away.
The victims were identified by police as 22-year-old Charles Wade, 9-year-old Demitrius Wall’neal and 6-year-old Londynn Wall’neal. The children were siblings; police haven’t said what their connection to Wade was.
“There’s a mother now that will have to go on in her life with two young babies that she no longer gets to raise,” assistant police chief LaShanna Potts said.
The evidence shows it wasn’t a random act, said Terry Kelly, the Columbus homicide detective leading the investigation.
“It does appear to be a targeted assassination,” Kelly said. “And there’s no other way to say it.”
Authorities, including Bryant, called on the community to step forward with information, especially those who know what happened and who’s responsible.
“This isn’t snitching,” Bryant said. “This is humanity.”
The union representing Columbus police officers said the city’s approach to public safety isn’t working, noting the city’s record homicide rate, along with Tuesday’s triple homicide and the ambush-style shooting of a U.S. marshal Wednesday morning that injured the marshal. Officers returning fire killed the suspect.
“If law and order are not reestablished, this trend will lead to more innocent lives lost,” Brian Steel, the Columbus Fraternal Order of Police vice president, said in statement.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther noted the city is making historic investments in police and fire hiring. The city graduates a class of 40 new officers in January with plans to hire 170 more officers next year.
Spiking violence in Columbus and cities nationally is unprecedented, and “requires new strategies, new techniques, and new tools, and we’re committed to doing that,” Ginther said.
Last month, for example, Ginther proposed spending more than $5 million next year to provide an alternative police response to 911 calls involving mental health and addiction crises.