December 10, 2023

Our reporting team gathers every week to discuss the journalism we know matters the most to our readers.

The enterprise meeting focuses on the stories we identify and develop outside of the daily hustle and bustle of breaking news and events.

These conversations on our region’s most pressing issues and compelling stories lead to the in-depth reporting you see weekly. It’s the local journalism that normally produces some of our strongest readership and has the potential to drive change.

Many months ago, our conversation turned to the never-ending barrage of gun violence shared weekly by Akron police. Those police narratives inform us all but can become routine and detached from the real pain inflicted on so many people. So, editors urged our team to begin looking for a deeper understanding of what’s happening in Akron and across Summit County.

As you will see beginning today, they’ve delivered.

“Akron in the Crossfire” will be a multiweek, in-depth reporting project appearing into late October and perhaps longer if we uncover more stories or community solutions.

‘It’s just out of control’: Summit County data paints grim picture of growing gun violence

Gun violence in Akron: We spent time in Akron’s 5 hotspots for gunfire. Here’s what residents had to say

Reporter Doug Livingston combed through 421 death certificates and a database of 11,008 shooting reports in Akron to quantify how gun violence is escalating in Akron, leaving 209 people dead from gun homicides, 207 from gun suicides and 684 injured since 2019.

Livingston, reporter Anthony Thompson and photographers Mike Cardew and Phil Masturzo took to the streets in five Akron neighborhoods with the most gun crimes. They spoke to residents about what they see and hear, their fears about being labeled “snitches” and suggestions for making our community safer.

Along the way, they met a young man who admitted he was carrying a handgun. The teen pulled up his shirt to reveal the gun stuck in his waistline. That recent encounter took place near Lane Field, where police say a 7-year-old Akron boy and a teen were shot by another teen after a youth football game on Aug. 20. You can see Cardew’s amazing image of this interview in this week’s coverage.

The Lane Field shooting outraged our community and accelerated our timeline for publishing this series. Reporter Jennifer Pignolet had met the 7-year-old during her yearlong reporting on nearby Helen Arnold Community Learning Center last school year. She’s sharing his story as part of this series.

We’re also speaking with teens growing up amid gun violence, medical teams who treat the wounded and pastors seeking to curb violence. We also examined the juvenile system that’s working with an incredible number of teens charged with gun crimes.

Six reporters and three photographers have worked under the direction of Managing Editor Cheryl Powell to make this reporting possible. Others have picked up the slack on other coverage.

We’re hoping these stories will give our leaders and citizens a deeper understanding of the problem many on Akron City Council complained about recently and help drive conversations on solutions.

Kids should not have to worry about their safety at local parks.

Michael Shearer is editor of the Akron Beacon Journal and He can be reached at or 330-996-3750.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Beacon Journal launches series on Akron gun violence

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