CLEVELAND – Ohio's attorney general said Tuesday that his office plans to convene a community summit to address concerns about violence in a northeastern Ohio city where two members of a church were killed.
Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray said that he talked with the Rev. Gregory Maturi of St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church in Youngstown about their mutual concern over the violence that Maturi says is connected to dilapidated houses in the area attracting criminal activity.
An 80-year-old parishioner was killed in the church parking lot in January. Another member was shot and killed and his wife was wounded Saturday while driving home from the church. Police on Tuesday arrested a Youngstown man in the weekend shooting, and were looking for a second suspect, said Youngstown police Sgt. Cynthia Dellick. She said 25-year-old Kevin Agee was arrested on a warrant charging him with felonious assault and complicity to commit aggravated murder. He was being held in the Mahoning County jail pending a Wednesday court hearing, and it was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney.
A different suspect has previously been charged in the earlier slaying.
Maturi appealed this week to Cordray and Gov. Ted Strickland for help in demolishing the blighted houses and told them that the parish has worked with city officials on the issue, but now "the state needs to step in."
State regulations have hampered efforts to demolish derelict houses, Maturi said.
The governor spoke briefly with the pastor at an event Monday in Youngstown and expressed his concerns about dilapidated homes being used for illicit purposes, Strickland spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said.
The governor will be sending a letter urging federal officials to grant Youngstown a waiver to use housing money from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which allows state and local governments to buy and redevelop foreclosed properties, for dilapidated home demolition, Wurst said.
She said that the governor also discussed appropriate follow-up conversations with state and local leaders about the issue.
Cordray said his office will consider what resources and support it can provide and get other civic leaders in the area to also put together a plan to address the problem.
The parish has sought the demolition of a half-burned house across the street from the church but has been told by city officials that it cannot be done because of state regulation until next year.
"We need them torn down now, not a year from now, not six months from now," Maturi said. "We need them torn down right away."
Maturi said any meetings arranged by state officials would be nonpolitical and said the issue couldn't wait until after the election. Strickland and Cordray, both Democrats, are seeking re-election.
These houses "are places for crime, for drugs, for prostitution, for rape," Maturi said. "They are places where criminals can hide after they have committed a crime."
Associated Press writers Lisa Cornwell in Cincinnati and Jeannie Nuss in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.