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Westwood community rallies around family of 8-year-old shooting victim

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Posted at 10:47 PM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 06:32:25-04

CINCINNATI — One man is charged in connection with a Westwood shooting that left two children in critical condition. The suspect in the shooting, Darius Harris, Jr., 19, is currently hospitalized, but is expected to be released into police custody when he recovers from injuries he received as a result of the shooting.

Tuesday evening at a community rally, 8-year-old Marcellus Whitehead’s mother, Marcella Thompson, made a plea for justice.

“He changed my child’s life forever, because whether or not my baby makes it up out of there, you know, he do survive, he’s going to always have that trauma,” she said.

MJ, as Marcellus is known, is currently in a medically induced coma at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital after being shot in the head and the leg Sunday, June 13, near a convenience store at the intersection of McHenry Avenue and Cavanaugh Avenue.

Since the shooting, the community has rallied behind the family – sending balloons and teddy bears through the Cincinnati Police – but Thompson still has a lot of unanswered questions.

“I want to know why would you do that in broad daylight when you see all these kids out there with all these bookbags running around?” she asked.

MJ was a member of the Cin City Gators football team. Tuesday, they met to practice for the first time since the shooting.

“We are dedicating this whole season to him from here on out, because he was a big part of our organization and he’s been around us since he was four years old, before he could even play,” Coach Leonard Riston said.

News of MJ’s injuries came as a shock to the team. Riston said he was just scratching the surface of the game.

“I just think about all of our boys, man, because they are out here in the community,” he said. "They are really free-will in the summertime going from summer camp to practice to staying at home and playing outside and anything can happen. It’s just sad that it had to be him up there in that area.”

Riston said “MJ Strong” is the new mantra for the team, and they’re all hoping he makes a full recovery.

MJ’s family has also set up a GoFundMe account to help with his medical expenses.