Overrun By Guns


Crimes involving firearms cut a deadly and costly path across Ohio’s largest cities. A special 3-day series by Columbus Dispatch reporter Theodore Decker looks at the roots.

Before a bullet severed her spine on the Columbus’ Near East Side last May, Alix Reese hoped to teach pre-school.

She was “always on the go,” as one friend put it. Now, she moves at a mechanical crawl in a motorized wheelchair that she maneuvers with her mouth, changing directions with puffs and sips of air.

She hasn't given up on teaching, but a more-pressing goal is to breathe without the help of a machine.

Reese is 26, the innocent victim of an unsolved gang shootout at Atcheson and Trevitt streets. She is among thousands of gunviolence victims in Ohio.

A Dispatch analysis of state records found that in 2009 alone, law-enforcement officers in Ohio investigated 12,550 incidents in which a gun was present. That's about 34 per day.

Seventy-nine percent occurred in seven of the state's largest cities: Columbus, Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown, according to crime statistics submitted to the Ohio Department of Public Safety by 545 agencies covering 71 percent of Ohio's population.

Guns were used in 62 percent of all Ohio homicides in 2009, the most recent year for which statewide statistics are available; 41 percent of robberies; and 24 percent of aggravated assaults, which include shootings such as the one that left Reese paralyzed.

Read the full story, published in The Columbus Dispatch on May 29, 2011, here and here.

Read the Sidebar, “Reluctant Witnesses Give Detectives Fits” here.

For links to other stories in the series, please click here.http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2011/05/29/overrun-by-guns.html?sid=101

Video links: http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/multimedia/video/video.html?videoUrl=/sites/dispatch/sites/dispatch/videos/2011/05/27/innocent-victim.xml


Theodore Decker, a crime reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, was one of seven midwest reporters who received special investigative journalism grants from the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College

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