One dead, 11 wounded in YSU shooting

The Omega Psi Phi fraternity house, located on Indiana Avenue in Youngstown, was involved in a shooting that injured 11 and left one dead. Photo by Nikolas Kolenich

911 calls

Blood stains the snow outside Youngstown State University’s Omega Psi Phi fraternity house on Indiana Avenue, remnants of an early morning shooting that injured 11 and killed one.

Jamail Johnson, a 25-year-old senior at Youngstown State University and Omega Psi Phi brother, was killed in the shooting, university officials said in a press conference. A 17-year-old is in critical condition at St. Elizabeth Health Center from a gunshot wound to the head. Of the 11 injured, six were YSU students. Eight have been released from the hospital.

Jimmy Hughes, Youngstown Chief of Police, said the fraternity was hosting a fundraiser at 55 Indiana Ave. on the north side of Youngstown. During the course of the night, a few fraternity brothers had to escort a man out of the house following an altercation, Hughes said, and another man involved in the incident left on his own.

“Shortly after leaving the establishment, they came back, opened the doorway and started firing,” Hughes said. “Both had semi-automatic handguns, and they just started firing into the crowd of 50 or more people.”

Dispatchers began receiving calls just after 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Several people contacted the emergency services reporting the incident.

“There’s a shooting,” said Carl Davidson amidst pleas for help during his phone call to dispatchers. He repeatedly shouted the address as he described the situation.

“There was a guy who came up,” Davidson said. “He got into it with somebody. They were fighting at the party, and he just started shooting inside the house.”

Another caller identified the shooter as a black man wearing a black Carhartt jacket.

Two men have been arrested, but Hughes said he would not release their names. He said they’re in their early 20s and from the Youngstown area. Though an incident report has not been released, Hughes said both men have been charged with aggravated murder, 11 counts of felonious assault and shooting into a house.

The fraternity is university-recognized, officials said during the press conference.

Christopher Cooper, the international spokesman for the fraternity, said the Omega Psi Phi is university-recognized but does not own the house. He added that all the fraternity’s residents have temporarily relocated since the incident.

Cooper and several other members visited the scene Sunday evening to support their fallen brother.

“One of my fraternity brothers was murdered,” he said. “It’s a very unfortunate incident. We are the victims here.”

Hughes described the off-campus street as an area primarily used for fraternity housing. He said it was a non-violent neighborhood, prone only to petty theft and car break-ins that are typical of a campus setting.

“YSU campus is predominantly safe,” Hughes said. “Campus police patrol that area. Normally, they try to encourage these fraternities to announce to the university police when they are giving these events so that they can have a heads-up on it.”

The city and campus police have a mutual-aid agreement, Hughes said. Campus police don’t have any jurisdiction off of YSU property, but Hughes said he gives them full police authority within university perimeters and the surrounding areas.

The university sent an e-mail informing all students of the incident, said Chris West, a YSU junior middle-childhood education major. The e-mail said the university will provide counseling, and the Youngstown State Police have increased security on campus.

“I don’t really know what to make of it yet,” West said. “I never felt nervous on campus. It doesn’t impact me because I didn’t feel threatened before.”

Ron Cole, YSU spokesman, said counseling and clergy will also be on campus Monday and are also available through the Help Hotline facility.

“I do want to express my deepest sympathies to the family of the student who died in this tragic act of violence and to ask everyone to keep him and the other students in their thoughts and prayers,” Youngstown State University President Cynthia Anderson said. “It’s a sad day for the YSU family.”

According to the campus e-mail alert, Anderson visited the hospital to be with students and their families.

Michaela Write, Kent State sophomore public relations major from the north side of Youngstown, said some of her friends were at the fraternity Sunday.

“It was saddening because people were just trying to get together and have a good time,” Write said. “People have different opinions on Youngstown, but since I’m from there, I guess I’m just used to it.”

The fraternity always holds a memorial service for its deceased brothers, Cooper said, but the brothers will consult the family before any arrangements are made.

“This is a good chapter. These are good young men here,” Cooper said. “This young man was poised to graduate from college. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, and it’s our worst nightmare. We don’t want our undergraduates harmed by anybody under any circumstances.”

Contact Dawn Einsel at [email protected] and Allison Smith at [email protected]