Shootout at Cleveland gas station wounds 3, including 7-year-old girl

December 20, 2017 GMT

Shootout at Cleveland gas station wounds 3, including 7-year-old girl

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A rush-hour shootout Tuesday at a gas station in a popular arts and dining district ended with two of the shooters wounded and a 7-year-old girl grazed in the hand by a stray bullet as she sat in her father’s car.

More than 50 gunshots were fired from at least four shooters — including an assault rifle, according to police reports. One man was shot as he crawled away from the gunfire and another was used as a human shield so another man could fire more bullets, police reports say.

Customers ran for their lives as the two groups shot it out in what police said began an armed robbery. Cleveland City Councilman Mike Polensek said police believe it was set-up to rob a drug dealer.

Four men were arrested in connection with the shooting, including the two men who were shot. Both of them fired several gunshots during the encounter, police reports say.

An 18-year-old man arrested in connection with the shooting is believed to be affiliated with the East 108 gang in Glenville, Polensek said.

The shooting happened about 5 p.m. at the Sunoco gas station on East 156th Street and Waterloo Road in Collinwood’s Waterloo district, home to the Beachland Ballroom and several trendy restaurants.

Three men met up shortly before the robbery at a home on East 156th Street. The 18-year-old man and a 30-year-old man walked to the gas station, and the third member of the group drove and parked behind it, police reports say.

A few minutes later, a black car pulled into a gas pump. The driver walked into the gas station, bought some items and walked out.

The 30-year-old man grabbed the man, pointed a gun at him and shoved him up against his car, according to police reports.

The 18-year-old man also ran up to the car, along with a 27-year-old man toting an AK-47, police reports say.

The 27-year-old man yanked open the passenger door and was shot in the stomach by a passenger, police reports say. He dropped the AK-47 as he fell to the ground.

The 30-year-old then used the man he grabbed walking out of the gas station as a shield and fired shots at the passenger in the car, according to police.

The passenger, 25, suffered several gunshot wounds in the back and mouth, police reports say. He got out of the car, picked up the AK-47 and fired several shots with his handgun as he ran from the gas station, police reports say.

He dropped the AK-47 behind the Sunoco and left a trail of blood as he ran to another gas station a block away, police said. He collapsed inside that gas station with his handgun tucked into the back of his waistband. He was taken to University Hospitals for treatment.

Back at the Sunoco, the 30-year-old man shoved the man he was using as a shield to the ground, police reports say. He and the 18-year-old unloaded dozens of gunshots as the man who was thrown to the ground crawled through the lot, police reports say.

None of the bullets struck him as he ran away, police reports say. Police are still trying to identify him.

The 18-year-old man ran up to the car parked at the pump and rummaged through it, police reports say. Police are unsure if anything was stolen.

As the bullets flew, two rounds ripped through a customer’s car. One grazed the 7-year-old girl’s middle finger while she sat in her father’s car. Polensek, who was at the scene shortly after the shooting, said he saw the bullet hole and where the girl was sitting.

“It was a miracle she wasn’t killed,” he said. “I told her that her guardian angel must have been watching over her.”

The 18-year-old man ran away after the shooting stopped. The 30-year-old man got in his car and put the 27-year-old man inside and drove him to the Cleveland Clinic for treatment, police reports say.

The driver of the car parked at the pump returned and sped off, police reports say.

A few minutes later, a man who did not take part in the shooting pulled into the parking lot, spotted the AK-47, put it in his car and sped away, police reports say.

Not long after, the 18-year-old and 30-year-old tried to get into the home where they first met up, police reports say. Officers went to the home and arrested the 18-year-old, who was standing outside, police reports say.

Believing the 30-year-old was inside the home, police called for a SWAT team that surrounded the home until 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. They searched the home and did not find the 30-year-old, police reports say.

Two guns were found inside the home, according to police.

Polensek, who last week called for Mayor Frank Jackson to declare a state of emergency after a Collinwood priest was shot at while running from two armed robbers, wrote a letter to Jackson on Monday demanding that more police officers be put on the streets and that the city ask the Ohio State Highway Patrol for help.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before, and I’ve been doing this a long time,” Polensek said in an interview. “These hoodlums know the police aren’t out there patrolling as much as they used to be.”

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