Franklin Co. coroner calls for violence prevention following spike

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Franklin County Coroner is speaking out about the spike in violence Columbus is experiencing this year.

On Saturday morning, the city lost a 64-year-old woman to gun violence. According to Columbus Police, she was hit in her Parsons Avenue apartment by a stray bullet that came from a gun fight hundreds of yards away.

And on Friday, a 17-year-old died after being shot earlier this week.

The coroner wrote a letter to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch.

“I just said, ‘I’ve had it, I’m gonna do this letter,'” said Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz.

Ortiz is calling for the creation of an office of violence prevention that looks at the root causes of violence.

She knows that efforts are there, but says there needs to be coordinated effort.

In her letter to the editor, Ortiz said when she has to look at too many 14, 15, and 16-year-olds on her autopsy table dead from gunshot wounds, she has to speak out, too.

In five weeks leading up to the end of July, six teenagers were shot and killed in Columbus, including a 14-year-old boy.

“It was a life cut way, way too short and too soon from something I believe we can prevent,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz said seeing that 14-year-old is part of what led her to write this letter.

Ortiz took part in a press conference in February about a spike in violence.

She said in the first quarter of 2020, homicides were up 14 percent over 2019, and that the number of homicides for July is up 40 percent over last July.

“It’s been striking,” Ortiz said Saturday. “It’s a violence we have not seen in the city for a while because in 2018, we saw a decrease in homicides. In 2019, we saw a decrease in homicides. And what I’m seeing is a lot of different groups trying to work on the issue, but no real coordination.”

“That’s what really led me to start looking at it even deeper, seeing the body of the 14-year-old on the autopsy table,” Ortiz added.

Ortiz also said gang violence is a bigger issue than most people realize, adding the community needs to look at why young people are getting involved in gang activity.

“I think we have the brain power and we have a lot of different groups who are very much interested in improving this issue for our community,” she said. “It’s just someone to lead it and also the funding that’s required for something like this.”

NBC 4 contacted the mayor’s office for comment, but has yet to hear back.

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