‘Not In Middletown’: Task force seeks to stop gun violence in city

Double homicide spurs initiative to find ways to stop problems before they escalate to crime.

Hours after a double homicide happened in the city of Middletown — its first in three years — city leaders began searching for ways to reduce gun violence.

Two 25-year-old Middletown men, Daniel Fitzgerald and Marvin Davis, were gunned down early Saturday morning in their 15th Avenue home, according to police.

Middletown Police Chief David Birk said his department is continuing to investigate the double homicide, though no suspects have been identified.

There was no evidence of forced entry into the residence nor any indication the men fired in self-defense, Birk said.

Fitzgerald died of a gunshot wound at the scene, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office. Davis died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Warren County Coroner’s Office. He died at Atrium Medical Center in Warren County.

Led by City Manager Paul Lolli, an initiative called “Not In Middletown,” has been formed with the goal of aiming teens away from gun violence and building relationships inside and outside the home, he said. City and church leaders met Sunday afternoon and about 20 people, representing diverse groups, gathered Wednesday morning in the Middletown Division of Police department.

“We are essentially, for a lack of better words, tired of this stuff,” Lolli told the Journal-News after the meeting. “We want to rid the city of that bad element. We want to tackle this and get a better Middletown message out there. This type of thing overshadows a lot of the good that’s been done.”

He paused on the phone, then added: “We are going to move forward.”

Middletown City Council member Rodney Muterspaw, formerly the police chief, said he understands the media has to do its job when reporting negative stories, but the city needs to change the message.

“There is always bad news coming out,” he said after Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “Let’s do something positive with it and try to reach younger people.”

Lolli said the deaths of the two men “struck a nerve” because he was raised on 15th Avenue, only a few blocks from the shooting.

He said those who participate in the initiative will create a vision and set goals. The task force plans to meet once a week until a plan is installed.

“We’ve got a lot of work,” Lolli said. “It’s not going to be easy.”

Birk said to change the mentality of at-risk youth, they need to be mentored so they “pick a different path than violence.”

These types of homicides can rip a community apart and take a toll on a police department, Birk said. While officers are trained to handle emergency situations, Birk said “you’re not meant to see this on a regular basis.”

“We are not immune,” he said. “It affect us all in different ways.”

Middletown Mayor Nicole Condrey attended Wednesday’s meeting. When she heard about the double homicide, though she didn’t know the victims, it was “like it happened to my family,” she said.

She doesn’t want their deaths to be in vain. Instead, she hopes the homicides can be “catalysts for change. That needs to happen.”

This was the city’s first double homicide since 2020 when Dashaua Brown, 29, and Aaron Paige, 31, both of Cleveland, were found dead in a car on Euclid Street on April 2 after a neighbor called about the suspicious car, Birk said.

No arrests were made.

Anyone with information regarding Saturday’s shooting is urged call Middletown detective Ken Mynhier at 513-425-7720 or 513-425-7700.

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