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Columbus City Leaders React To Triple Shooting That Claimed Lives Of Two Children

Columbus city leaders held a news conference Wednesday in response to a deadly shooting Tuesday evening that left three people dead, including two young children.
Matthew Rand
Columbus city leaders held a news conference Wednesday in response to a deadly shooting Tuesday evening that left three people dead, including two young children.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther did not hold back his anger as he spoke about the two young children that were shot and killed while sitting in a car in southeast Columbus.

"Babies facing violent deaths in our city cannot be tolerated," Ginther said.

Columbus Police said the shooting happened Tuesday around 6 p.m. at an apartment complex on Kodiak Drive, near Canal Winchester.

Six-year-old Londynn Wall'neal and her brother, 9-year-old Demitrius Wall'neal, were found inside the bullet-ridden car, along with 22-year-old Charles Wade.

"Demitrius and Londynn may not have been ours, biologically or legally. But they are our kids. And this community has lost because of their deaths," Ginther said.

Police officials said that the shooting was not a random act of violence.

"This was not a random act of violence," said Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant. "A mother should be prepared to wrap Christmas presents for her child. But instead, she has to figure out how she's going to bury her children," Bryant said.

Columbus Detective Terry Kelley called it a targeted assassination, believed to have been carried out by at least two gunmen.

"It was not a drive-by. It was not somebody walking down the street firing random shots. This was a targeted attack at that vehicle," Kelley said. "Whether I could you know whether they knew there were children in the car, I don't know. I would like to think as a human being that they did not. But I can't guarantee that."

Authorities did not explain the relationship between the two children and the third victim.

Demitrius and Londynn were elementary students at Canal Winchester Schools.

The school district put out a statement that read "We are shocked and heartbroken," adding that grief counselors would be available for anyone in need of help coping with the loss.

The killings came as a shock to people who live and work in the area.

One woman, who would only give her first name Kathy, said she has lived in Canal Winchester for 40 years and described it as a safe community.

"We love our town. We love our people. We're, we all will stand together and help the family in any way that we can. And it's just just tragedy," she said.

Another person who works in the area, Robert Thomas, said the threat of violence is concerning.

"Somehow, someway, we need to figure out how to stop it," he said.

The killings add to what has already been a record year for homicides in the city, bringing the total to 186, a grim statistic Columbus Director of Public Safety Robert Clark said he takes personally.

"Because as the son of a murdered father, I know what it feels like to have that empty chair at the Christmas table. There will be empty chairs in our community this Christmas," Clark said.

Police said they have leads, but need the community's help to solve the case.

"We need your help. We need your participation. We need you to not treat this as a normal day in the city of Columbus," Clark said.

"This isn't snitching. This is humanity," Bryant said.

Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.