SPRINGDALE, Ohio — Neighbors of Josue Baldomero Lopez Ramirez, an 18-year-old shot dead during an apparent robbery Wednesday night, said Thursday they worried the distinct makeup of their community could put them at risk of further violence.
“I’m scared, too,” said Rolando Escalante, who said he saw Ramirez’s mother holding him at the scene of the attack. “My family, my child, they don’t want to stay no more here, and me, too.”
Most people who live at the Willows at Springdale Apartments, where the shooting took place, come from Guatemalan families and speak Spanish as their first language.
Some who declined to speak on camera said they believed criminals from outside the community were more likely to target them, thinking either that they are more vulnerable or that they will be too afraid of visits from immigration officials to contact police.
One pointed out that if Ramirez’s assailants had demanded money in English, a language barrier could have pushed the situation toward its violent end.
“It’s very horrible yesterday,” Escalante said. “Too young. Too young. I don’t like this place, you know?”
He said he had also been attacked by robbers near the complex in July.
Assistant police Chief Thomas Wells said he believed the Williams at Springdale was “a fairly safe place overall” and added his department never checks a caller’s citizenship when responding to an emergency. People who are victims of crimes shouldn’t be scared to report them, he said.
A group of suspects in Ramirez’s death remained at large Thursday night. Police said they believe he was attacked by three or four men, but authorities did not have detailed descriptions of them.
Anyone with information about the attack should call Springdale police at 513-346-5760 or leave an anonymous tip for CrimeStoppers at 513-352-3040.