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Akron establishes support fund for victims of June 2 mass shooting

Akron Mayor Shammas Malik (center) provides an update on the June 2 mass shooting on June 10, 2024.
Anna Huntsman
Ideastream Public Media
Akron Mayor Shammas Malik (center) provides an update on the June 2 mass shooting on June 10, 2024.

The city of Akron and several nonprofit organizations have started a new fund to support the victims of a mass shooting in which one person died and 27 people were injured.

The Gun Violence Response Fund has already raised $50,000 from the Akron Community Foundation and United Way, Mayor Shammas Malik announced in a Monday press conference. The funds will go directly to the victims and their families, he said.

“This fund is not about funding violence prevention or intervention. It's not about city government initiatives. This is about providing support to victims,” Malik said.

Akron City Council approved a $150,000 investment into the fund during its meeting Monday night.

Police say the shooting happened just after midnight on June 2 at a block party in East Akron. In total, 28 people were shot, an increase from the city's previous update, Police Chief Brian Harding said. While interviewing witnesses, police identified an additional wounded victim — a 36-year-old woman who had been grazed in the arm, Harding said.

LaTeris Cook, 27, died in the shooting.

The Victim Assistance Program Inc. of Summit County will reach out to victims to learn what specific support they need. Possible assistance could include help with medical bills and funeral expenses for the Cook family, Malik said.

“Trauma is messy, and everyone's experience and situation is different,” said Leanne Graham, president of Victim Assistance. “I'm not able to provide specific examples of the financial barriers everyone encounters because they are vast, and they are different.”

The fund's advisory committee will meet with families over the next week and develop a priority list. That team includes Tracy Carter, director of Government Affairs and Health Policy at Summa Health; Ron Paydo, Akron/Canton Market President at Huntington and Rev. Dr. Charles Myricks Jr. of Arlington Church of God.

The funds will be available next Monday.

If enough money is raised, officials could eventually extend the support to the dozens of witnesses to the shooting who were unharmed, Graham added.

“A victim is a victim, and if they say that they’re hurting, we’re going to help them," Graham told city council members in the city's budget and finance committee meeting Monday. "I hope this fund expands, yes, but [the 28 victims are] our priority today.”

For example, witnesses might have expenses if their cars were towed for evidence, or they may be staying in a hotel out of fear of returning to their homes, Graham added.

The fund was inspired by a similar foundation created in Dayton in response to a 2019 mass shooting there that killed nine people and wounded dozens, Malik said.

The advisory committee will meet with Michael Parks, who chaired the Dayton fund, to collect information Akron can use as it formulates its fund, Malik said.

The police department is continuing to follow up on many leads and tips, Harding said, but no suspect has been identified. Police are still investigating whether the shooting was random or targeted, he added.

He hopes to provide a more “substantial update” in the coming days, he said.

Updated: June 11, 2024 at 10:18 AM EDT
This story has been updated to include the vote Monday night by Akron City Council to approve a city contribution to the fund.
Anna Huntsman covers Akron, Canton and surrounding communities for Ideastream Public Media.