Cincinnati police ramp up efforts to curb gun violence after shooting death of 8-year-old

Posted at 3:12 PM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 19:55:01-04

CINCINNATI — The shooting death of an 8-year-old boy earlier this month was not a random act of violence, Chief Eilot Isaac said. It was a tragedy that occurred inside a home.

A 9-year-old child shot and killed Chance Gilbert on May 17 when a group of kids were playing with a gun in an apartment on Hawaiian Terrace in Cincinnati’s Mt. Airy neighborhood, Isaac said.

Isaac discussed the circumstances surrounding the boy’s death at a Cincinnati City Council meeting Wednesday morning.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said Gilbert was playing with a BB gun just before he died. The boy who shot him didn’t know the gun was loaded.

Officials met with the juvenile court judge and decided not to press charges in Gilbert’s death, Deters said.

“We think this boy who shot the other is going to need help, and we’re working towards that goal,” Deters said. “There’s nothing about this except to help the kid get through this.”

Authorities have not been able to locate the gun Gilbert was shot with, and it’s not clear who owned the gun.

Deters said investigators don’t know which type of gun Gilbert was shot with but that it “had to be pretty powerful.”

“Somebody did do something wrong here,” Deters said. “When you have a 9-year-old who did this and is the only one to demonstrate courage in this situation, it’s pretty disturbing.”

Gilbert is one of 35 people killed this year in Cincinnati. There has been a 131% spike in homicides in 2020 compared to this time last year, according to Cincinnati police data.

Officers haven’t been able to fully deploy the tactics they normally do because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so the police department formed the “violent crime gun task force.”

“The surge that we’ve had in gun violence since the beginning of the year, I think it’s directly related to the influx of illegal guns in our neighborhoods,” Isaac said.

The task force has seized more than 50 illegal guns over the last three weeks.

The pandemic adds another layer of complexity as summer approaches; city recreation programs are canceled or scaled back.

“I’m very concerned about that,” Isaac said. “Usually we keep about 500 kids occupied throughout that spring-summer period.”