Prosecutor decries gun violence, says “defunding” not answer

CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio prosecutor pledged Monday help police find and prosecute those responsible for a weekend wave of gun violence.

Cincinnati police said more than 20 people were shot, four fatally, in a string of seven cases beginning early Sunday morning. Police were still investigating, but didn’t believe the shootings were connected.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said he is “alarmed, shocked and saddened” about the gun violence. The Republican also added that the violence and police response to it should silence calls to “defund” police. Such calls have been made across the country for efforts to reform policing.

“While I believe that we should police smartly and efficiently and use all of our resources in the best way possible, ‘defunding’ the police is not the answer,” Deters said in a statement.

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Mayor John Cranley, a Democrat, said the city was facing “unprecedented circumstances and challenges” in fighting crime during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said guns are “far too prevalent” at private gatherings after bars close early under pandemic restrictions.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine again action on his “STRONG Ohio” proposals to address gun violence. Introduced last year in the aftermath of a mass shooting in Dayton, the legislation lacks the toughest measures backed gun control advocates favored, but seeks to increase and improve background checks. It has stalled in the state Legislature.

Police said the three Sunday evening shootings in Cincinnati were unrelated, and none of the three victims had life-threatening wounds. Two people were wounded in hands, and a man was shot in the back after a fight broke out at a party, police said.

Those shootings followed four gunfire outbursts early Sunday in which 18 people where shot, four fatally. In one case, 10 people were shot.

No suspect information was released immediately in any of the cases.

Police said the department would shift officers from other assignments to increase the number of uniformed officers in the affected communities and would call on federal prosecutors and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for help.

In July, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the city had experienced a rise in shootings and homicides from gun violence during the first half of the year as compared to the same time period in 2019.

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