Update on Cleveland Shooting


Steve N
May 10, 2007, 12:39 PM
This was in today's Plain Dealer.


Shooter's home gets volunteer security
Officers, NAACP plan to keep watch Thursday, May 10, 2007
Olivera Perkins Plain Dealer Reporter

Off-duty police and NAACP members volunteered Wednesday to provide 24-hour security so that the man who fatally shot a robber feels safe to return to the house he frequently shared with his fiancée's family.

NAACP President George Forbes, City Councilman Zack Reed and police union President Stephen Loomis also pledged to join Damon Wells and his fiancée for their first night back at the house in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood.

But Wells said in a telephone interview that he might not return anyway.

"I really don't know," he said. "I have a lot of things to think about."

No one can return until crews replace windows that police said were shot out in retaliation for Wells shooting to death 15-year-old Arthur Buford on April 21 as Buford and an accomplice tried to rob Wells at gunpoint.

Prosecutors have ruled that Wells, who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, acted in self-defense. But Wells has been threatened and the Mount Pleasant house vandalized, forcing Wells, his fiancée and her mother to live elsewhere.

Forbes said at a Wednesday news conference that Wells asked for assistance so that Jestina Berry, who leases the house, could move back. Wells is engaged to Berry's daughter, Tiffany, and often stayed at the home, Forbes said.

"He said he wanted to move back, but that they were afraid," Forbes said. "I said: 'If you are afraid, I will spend the night with you.' "

Loomis said 25 officers have volunteered to serve on the off-duty patrols.

"We're there to send a message: Leave the innocent people alone," he said.

"We're there until they feel safe and confident, and then we will take our leave."

Reed said Jestina Berry was determined not to let thugs run her out of her house of 12 years. But Tiffany Berry said she doesn't want to return to the house, even to visit her mother.

"I don't feel safe going over there," she said. "I don't want to risk it."

Windows for the house are on order and the family could return by the third week of May, said Thomas Stone, executive director of Mount Pleasant Now, the nonprofit development company that owns the house.

Police Chief Michael McGrath said officers will need city clearance to volunteer. He said he has yet to receive requests to volunteer at the house.

Cuyahoga County Sheriff Gerald McFaul has ordered two cars in front of the house for the duration of the patrols, said Lt. Robert Chilton of McFaul's staff, who attended the news conference. Cheryl McDuffie, president of the Black Shield Police Association, said her group would also help patrol.

Forbes said the NAACP didn't hesitate to support Wells because reports of the windows being shot out of Berry's home resonated with many Clevelanders, who believe they could fall prey to such retaliation.

The family of 16-year-old Mardale Williams, identified by prosecutors as Buford's accomplice in the botched robbery attempt, also asked Forbes to get involved on their behalf, but he declined. He said he told them it wouldn't be appropriate because the NAACP had already taken a side.

City police and the NAACP are often at odds, but Forbes said Wednesday that he has had a good relationship with Loomis and previous police union presidents. So Loomis didn't hesitate when Forbes asked the police union to patrol the house. Forbes said the NAACP was even willing to pay for the patrols, but the police union refused.

Forbes said Loomis expressed a bit of hesitation about the first night duty.

"Loomis said: 'There is just one problem: I sleep naked, and I snore.' "

Plain Dealer columnist Regina Brett and Plain Dealer reporter Susan Vinella contributed to this story

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

operkins@plaind.com, 216-999-4868

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May 10, 2007, 05:56 PM
We blast LEO when they are unsupportive of CCW, and here is a GREAT example of when we should praise them for their support. I am glad to see the PD is being very supportive of this individual. Thank you to the LEOs involved.

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