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Man killed in Akron overnight mass shooting identified; 24 people injured

City of Akron
Zaria Johnson
Ideastream Public Media
Akron Mayor Shammas Malik discusses the suspected drive-by shooting at a press conference on Sunday, June 2nd, 2024, and urges witnesses to come forward anonymously with tips.

The man killed in an early morning mass shooting in Akron Sunday has been identified as 27-year-old Lateris Cook of Akron, according to the Summit County Medical Examiner's office.

The shooting injured 24 people, according to reports from the Akron Police Department. Two people remain in critical condition.

Calls came in to the police department's 911 center just after midnight reporting shots being fired near Kelly Avenue and 8th Avenue along with alerts from local hospitals that received multiple victims of gunshot wounds.

"This was a tragic incident which impacts our entire community," Akron Mayor Shammas Malik said. "All incidents of gun violence are tragedies, but here, the sheer number of victims is shocking and deeply concerning. We can only be thankful that, of the 25 individuals who were injured, we did not have more fatalities."

Police are following some initial leads, but no suspects have been identified yet, Police Chief Brian Harding said in a Sunday evening press conference.

A $22,500 reward is being offered for anyone with information that leads to a successful identification, arrest and prosecution of involved parties, according to city officials.

Two handguns and more than 35 shell casings were recovered from the scene, he said. The investigation is in its preliminary stages, but Harding said the casings provide useful insight.

"Based on the layout of the spent shell casings it appears consistent with someone driving by shooting out of a car," he said. "We believe that some individuals at the party may have returned fire based on physical evidence at the scene."

A description of the vehicle and additional details on the suspect and victims are not yet available, Harding said.

The East Akron neighborhood has had 80 shootings from 2014 to 2023, that killed 29 people and injured 76, according to data collected by the nonprofit, Gun Violence Archive, which gathers and verifies incidents of gun violence in the U.S. More than 50 of these shootings occurred since 2020.

Sunday's shooting sheds light on the severity of the gun violence epidemic at the national level, Malik said.

"The level of violence in our community, and frankly in communities across the country, is out of control," he said. "The availability of weapons, the casualness with which some people use weapons, you know, something that in the past may have been a fistfight now turns into a deadly shooting like this."

The city will be working to implement gun violence prevention programs this summer, Malik said.

U.S. Representative Emilia Sykes (OH-13) from Akron condemned the violence and extended condolences to the victims and their families.

"My heart and prayers are with the victims, their families, and our entire community who are attempting to make sense of a senseless act of violence," Sykes said in a statement. "I’m grateful for the law enforcement officers who responded quickly to the scene, and I encourage anyone who may have any information to contact the authorities. Our community must work together to keep our neighborhoods safe from gun violence."

Sykes said her office is prepared to assist with the investigation as needed.

In a joint statement, Akron Mayor Shammas Malik and Police Chief Brian Harding said community insight on the shooting will be crucial to the investigation.

"We will bring those responsible to justice, and we need the help of our community to do that," the statement read. "For those who have information about this horrific shooting – we need you to speak up in order to prevent further violence and retaliation. This can be done anonymously."

Malik emphasized that those involved in the shooting and those who carryout retaliation will be "held accountable to the fullest extent of the law."

Frustration with and distrust in the Akon Police Department remains following the fatal police shooting of Jayland Walker in 2022 and April shooting of 15-year-old Tavion Koonce-Williams, who was injured in the hand.

The city is aware of these sentiments, Malik says and encourages residents and witnesses to come forward, anonymously to help keep the city safe.

"We recognize the gaps in trust that are there," Malik said. "We're not trying to shy away from them or hide away from them, but we all, as a community, need to address the gun violence going on in our community."

Those with information can call the Akron Police Department Detective Bureau at 330-375-2490 and the Summit County Crimestoppers at 330-434-COPS. Tips can also be texted to TIPSCO at 274637.

Updated: June 3, 2024 at 10:34 AM EDT
This article was updated to include the name of the victim.

June 2, 2024, 10:04 p.m.
This article was previously updated to include information from a press conference Sunday evening.
Zaria Johnson is a reporter/producer at Ideastream Public Media covering the environment.
Anna Huntsman covers Akron, Canton and surrounding communities for Ideastream Public Media.