YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Sometimes in police work there’s no such thing as catching your breath.
The overnight hours of Aug. 17-18 were already shaping up to be such a time for city police.
They had handled two walk-in gunfire calls at St. E’s in less than an hour that had seen three people shot. They would receive two more shootings within five minutes of each other that would see two people killed, including a 10-year-old girl at a home on Samuel Avenue, and four wounded.
The shootings were part of a two-night period that saw 11 people shot in just over 24 hours and a month that had seen 30 people shot overall.
Because the month was unlike anything the city has seen in years, WKBN has attempted to put together those two nights, as much as possible, using 911 recording, police reports and interviews with people who were there.
So much was happening that it couldn’t fit into one story. This is the second of a four-part series.
AUG. 18, 2:21 A.M., 500 BLOCK OF PALMER AVENUE
The woman in the 500 block of Palmer told a 911 call taker a series of gunshots woke up her and her daughter.
“My daughter hit the floor behind my bed,” the caller said. “We just hit the floor. Both of us were asleep.”
A man on nearby Beechwood Avenue also heard gunfire–and something else.
“I heard someone outside and it sounds like somebody is hurt or something,” the man said. “I’m not sure but I heard somebody…” and his voice trails off. He is asked how many gunshots he hears.
“Fifteen or 20,” the man said. “Then I heard a car crash — like somebody was trying to get away, And I still hear somebody screaming or something.”
A woman on Palmer Avenue said a parked car in her drive was hit. “Somebody’s up the street calling for help,” she told the call taker.
As calls flood in, two south side cars, Car 206 with officer Andrew Balog and Car 204 with Officer Rob DiMaioilo, are sent to South and Palmer.
The 25-year-old Balog was just a year old when DiMaiolo, a Boardman High School graduate who previously served as a machine gunner in the United States Marine Corps, joined the department.
A woman calls in to 911 and said her car, which was parked in her drive on Palmer Avenue, was hit by another vehicle that crashed into a pole at the top of the street.
“Somebody’s up the street calling for help,” she said.
A woman who told a call taker she was walking on South Avenue at 2:20 a.m. said she saw the truck hit the pole after hearing “a whole bunch of gunshots.”
“I’m walking up there now. I’m all out of breath,” she said before yelling at the man in the truck who was wounded.
“I called 911 for you! I called 911 for you!” she said. The gunshots, she said, went off one after another, “boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.”
She matter of factly describes the scene for the call taker. In fact, it seems like she is talking to a third person.
“He’s dead. He got shot in the head. He got shot in the leg. And the body, he’s in the truck. He got shot in the head. The man’s dead. He got shot in the side of the head. He’s dead. He was screaming and hollering call 911.”
Balog and DiMaiolo show up at almost the exact same time.
DiMaiolo said later it appeared immediately the driver of the truck was dead and the passenger was on the pavement next to the truck was wounded in the leg. He was alert and talking, DiMaiolo said.
DiMaioio stayed with the truck while Balog walked down the street and found several shell casings near the intersection of Palmer and Gibson.
Because of the two shootings just before midnight turn, DiMaiolo said he was expecting a busy night because someone would be looking to retaliate, especially with one of those shootings on the south side.
Balog, who joined the city police department after a year and a half working for Mill Creek MetroParks Police because he “wanted some excitement,” found several casings in the road.
“It was a big scene,” said Balog, who grew up in Austintown.
Detectives would later say that someone shot at the truck on Gibson before it turned onto Palmer and crashed into a utility pole and barely missed colliding with a Stop The Violence sign next to the pole.
Midnight turn dispatcher Officer Mike Brindisi is trying to get more cars to help out at South and Palmer.
“Any other car that can go up there just go. We’re getting calls all over the place of shots being fired.”
Just minutes later, an “All Tone” goes off on the air, or a bell that alerts officers to be on the alert that a major crime is on the way.
Just after the tone goes off, Brindisi goes on the air: “619 Samuel. Six-One-Nine Samuel for another shooting, we’re getting it in now. Any car that can go up there, go.
“Everybody in the city, all cars, get up to Samuel, get up to Gibson and Palmer. I think we got three shot on Samuel.”
Balog was looking for shell casings at Palmer and Gibson when the call for Samuel came in.
“I was like, ‘Oh, crap, another one,'” he said.
This report is a four-part series targeting just over a 24-hour violent crime spree in the city of Youngstown. You can find a new installment each day from Monday to Thursday this week. To read previous installments, click the links below: