YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It was a week ago that a shooting occurred at the Utopia nightclub on Youngstown’s south side. One person was killed and two were injured.
The shooting has now become an issue in the Youngtown Mayoral race. Candidate and councilman Julius Oliver Friday responded to what he called talk “all over social media” about him being at the Utopia and not cooperating with police.
Oliver scrolled through and shared text messages to prove he was not at the Utopia nightclub when the shootings happened.
The shootings happened at 1:30 a.m. Oliver said he arrived at around 10:30 p.m. to do voter registrations. He stayed half an hour.
“Basically, the atmosphere wasn’t conducive to do voter registrations,” Oliver said.
After the shootings, Oliver was interviewed by police and was asked to come in and identify some pictures.
“I was going to go in, but I got busy that day. I had to go meet with some other clients and I never went in,” Oliver said. ” But I don’t think it would have been beneficial for me to go in anyway because I didn’t see anything. I wasn’t there.”
Later, through social media posts, Oliver learned there were allegations that he was not cooperating with police. He claims it came from within the Youngstown Police Department and his opponent Ryan Kelly.
“It could be no one else than somebody in the police department. Normal citizens don’t walk around saying I’m not cooperating with police,” Oliver said. “My opponent has family in the police department. His father is the chief of police in Campbell. So, it’s like if this is how desperate you are to try and discredit me, you should drop out of the race.”
Ryan Kelly says he knew nothing about Oliver’s link to the Utopia shootings until a reporter called him Friday afternoon.
“I just want to be absolutely clear. There was somebody that lost their life, and my prayers go out to the family, that’s first and foremost. Secondly, I’m driven by solutions, not rumors. People everywhere in the city just want to be safe going to the store or know their kids can go outside and play without fearing for their lives. That shouldn’t be a political request, that should be the standard. Anything beyond that needs to change today,” Kelly said. “My brother, father and anyone else I have a relationship at YPD are worrying about preventing further loss of life and not giving me stories. Life was lost, and the people in the Youngstown Police Department need all the support they can to make sure we prevent things like this from happening in the future.”
Messages left with Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown and Police Chief Carl Davis were not immediately returned.
“That’s why people don’t talk to the police. It’s because of situations like this where information gets out that shouldn’t,” Oliver said. “I’m not against the entire police department, only those who leak information that shouldn’t be out there. When you got families out there hurting. You got families out there that need answers, and then you’re trying to turn this into a political thing and focus it on me. Well, I think that’s shame on you. I think just for that nobody should vote for this person. You claim to be a police family. You claim to come from a police family, and now you and your family are putting out information that could put my life in danger.”
Watch the entire interview with Julius Oliver below: