Cleveland council president cracks down on illegal gatherings after 5 shot at party

Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 9:06 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It shouldn’t happen in your neighborhood: properties hosting after hours parties.

A young man recently loss his life at one of these events on Cleveland’s East Side.

“There have been other reports about illegal gathering at that location,” Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin said.

He said a property near Bessemer Avenue and East 79th Street, located in his ward, has been a nuisance for years.

“I am working closely with building and housing to make sure we can get access to that building,” Griffin said.

Five people were shot at a party at that property Saturday, and 21-year-old Rohan Smith died.

Police said there was an argument and gunshots went off.

“When you don’t have the proper permitting, these are the kind of things that happen with tragedies, because it’s not regulated the right way,” Griffin said.

According to the Cuyahoga County auditor, the property is zoned for light manufacturing, assembly.

19 News tracked down Bilal Johnson, who leased the space to someone else for that night, allowing them to have a party.

Johnson said he wasn’t aware the space was not permitted to have events or parties.

Though, his associate Anthony Jones said the building is a church: “We have events. We don’t do parties. They were suppose to do events.”

Councilman Griffin said this unfortunate shooting has sparked a new flame. They’re working to catch illegal gatherings.

“We are definitely going to make sure building and housing, the fire department, public health as well as public safety in order to make sure we crack down on those establishments,” Griffin said.

19 News put in a request with the city of Cleveland about any nuisance or 911 calls made about this property. We are waiting to hear back.