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Cincinnati's teen curfew didn't stop July 4 shooting

WCPO cincinnati police smale.png
Posted at 7:01 PM, Jul 06, 2021

CINCINNATI — In the wake of a shooting that left two teenagers dead and three more injured late Sunday night, community anti-violence advocate Peterson Mingo suggested an enforced curfew would prevent more incidents of youth violence over the summer.

“A 10 p.m. curfew would be beautiful,” he said.

Cincinnati already has one, but it wouldn’t have applied to most of the teenagers affected by the July 4 confrontation in Smale Park.

The city's statute, which was passed in 1994, requires teens under 16 to be home by 10 p.m. and teens 16-18 to head back by midnight.

Anyone found breaking the curfew can be cited, and their parents can legally be charged with a misdemeanor.

Only one of the teenagers wounded in the Sunday shooting — a 15-year-old boy — would have been subject to the 10 p.m. curfew as it stands in Cincinnati’s city charter that night.

The others were all 16 or older, including the two young men whom police later identified as the shooters. Chief Eliot Isaac said 16-year-old Milo Watson and 19-year-old Dexter Wright Jr. became involved in a confrontation that escalated into a shooting around 10:48 p.m. It killed them both.

Three other teens — the 15-year-old boy, a 16-year-old girl and a 17-year-old girl — were injured.

Another time limit was approaching when it happened, however: The 11 p.m. closing of Smale Park. Police estimated about 400 people had come to watch fireworks over the river, and officers were moving them out of the park so it could close.

In statements after the shooting, Isaac and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley each said that an additional curfew might not have helped prevent the attack if the park closing and presence of police officers didn’t deter the shooters.

"It's the holiday weekend,” Isaac said. “Who doesn't want to come out and see fireworks on a holiday weekend? I don't think that is the answer to what occurred last night. I think we need responsible adults to be responsible for juveniles."