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Police announce 13 charged in Youngstown homicide

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - The Youngstown Police Department has charged 13 people in connection with the murder of a city teenager that shocked the community and led to calls for  residents to "make better choices."

Police held a press conference Friday afternoon to announce that criminal charges have been filed against nine adults and four juveniles. 

The thirteen individuals were arrested on a variety of  charges including murder, involuntary manslaughter, inciting a riot, and felonious assault. 

The Mahoning County Grand Jury secretly indicted nine of the individuals on Thursday.  They're all being charged in connection with the murder of Shawn Cortez, 17 years old, of Youngstown.
 
Officials say that twelve people connected with the incident are now in custody. 
 
Cortez was murdered in a shooting on Winona Drive on August 17th following an argument that involved two separate groups of people. 

Authorities say the conflict that led up to the shooting of the teenager involved verbal sparring between the two groups.  According to police officials there were several generations involved in the arguments preceding the shooting.  Witnesses say about 25 to 35 people were gathered on Winona before shots were fired.  

According to police, the groups were arguing about a prior incident that happened Saturday evening at the home of a one of the people in the crowd. One group began to withdraw from the argument. Then apparently, after arguments broke out again, shots were fired. 

Police say Cortez was hit with bullets, stumbled to a nearby yard and collapsed.  The group arrested range in age from 15 to 46.  So the question is why did the adults not stop the violence?

Youngstown City Prosecutor Dana Lantz tells 21 News, "They're family members.  There's multiple generations involved.  I think that you will see there are young relatives and then older relatives backing them up in a fight is what the video seems to reveal.  I think one of the most shocking things that we all determined is that there are people charged in this case that have all been victims themselves of violence.  Two that we know of themselves had family members killed or shot last year.  Yet they were the ones inciting and egging this on."

Officials obtained cell phones from two females who were in the crowd of people. These two females were, reportedly, inciting the fighting to continue. According to police they are among the nine adults that were arrested according to Mahoning County Assistant Prosecutor Martin Desmond, "Those two are likewise are charged with the aggravated riot.  You can plainly hear them inciting the violence, egging them on to fight.  So they're charged with aggravated riot as well as involuntary manslaughter."

Police say the videos were instrumental in the arrests of the individuals involved in Cortez's death. However, authorities will not be releasing the videos to the public since they are a part of the ongoing investigation.   

As a result of the murder community leaders are calling for unity and community action to stop violence in Youngstown. 

Guy Burney, the Coordinator for the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence, stated that Cortez's death was a senseless loss of life. 

Burney said the community must be accountable for making better choices to influence Youngstown's youth

"Choices are long lasting and life changing," said Burney. "So I am asking the community to make a choice. I am asking parents to make a choice. Choose, make choices that will last and be good for your family." 

Officials have released the names of some of the persons arrested so far:

Dejon Jenkins, 19 years old, of 118 Manchester Avenue in Youngstown, faces charges of murder and aggravated riot. 

He's being held on more than $1-Million bond.  Dejon Jenkins is  suspected of providing the gun to his 17 year old brother David Jenkins that fired the fatal shot according to police sources.  The younger Jenkins is charged with two counts of murder, felonious assault, aggravated riot, involuntary manslaughter and a gun specification charge.

David Belton, 32 years old, has been charged with felonious assault, involuntary manslaughter, and aggravated riot. 

Carl Fleeton, 41 years old, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and having a weapon under disability. 

Dequann Fleeton (20), Rontrell White (25), Rouxje Ezell (19),  and Carlisha Hammonds (19) all face charges of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated riot. 

Meanwhile, Carla Higgins-Hammonds, 46 years old, faces charges for obstructing justice.

Three juveniles ages 17, 16, and 15 each face charges of aggravated riot and involuntary manslaughter.

One adult remains at large.

Authorities said they will be attempting to preemptively stop the type of retaliatory actions usually associated with a death of this nature. 

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