Police said a dispute ensued Sunday night at the Omega Psi Phi fraternity house; one man was thrown out of the party and the other followed. They returned sometime later and began spraying bullets into the crowd, police said. Youngstown State University senior Jamail Johnson, 25, was killed. Police arrested two men that evening.
Investigators did not know Monday what the initial argument was about and were searching for a motive, but people at the party told a friend of Johnson's who was sleeping at the house that the gunmen had argued with others over a girl earlier in the evening. Isaiah Lee, 19, said his friend was trying to defuse the situation when the shots rang out.
"He was trying to be a hero," Lee said. "He was trying to get them out of there so nothing would happen, no fight."
Youngstown police were trying to determine if disturbances at another fraternity party and a Youngstown club the same night were related to the shootings
Police arrested 19-year-old Braylon L. Rogers and 22-year-old Columbus E. Jones Jr., who was released from prison in April 2009 after serving a sentence for burglary. The two were charged with aggravated murder, shooting into a house and 11 counts of felonious assault, police said. Neither is a university student nor a fraternity member.
Jail officials did not know if the men have attorneys. They were jailed in the Mahoning County Jail and were scheduled to appear in court Tuesday. Youngstown Police Chief Jimmy Hughes said the charges could be adjusted.
When a resident of the two-story brick house told Lee that people had been shot, he said he went downstairs to find out what happened. There he found his friend, lying in a pool of blood.
"I went downstairs and there he was, just covered in blood," Lee said. "There was so much commotion going on. Everyone was angry. All this blood is everywhere."
Johnson had been trying to separate two groups having a dispute among the 50 or so party-goers, police said. Witnesses told investigators that when the shots rang out, "it was practically a stampede atmosphere," said city prosecutor Jay Macejko.
An autopsy report showed Johnson died of gunshot wounds to the head and one of his legs.
"There was quite a bit of loss of blood from the leg," said Joseph Ohr, a forensic pathologist from the Mahoning County coroner's office.
Six of the injured party-goers were students. Eight were treated at a nearby hospital and released Sunday, hospital spokeswoman Tina Creighton said. She would not release the conditions of the remaining three.
Monday, about 200 people attended a prayer service at the campus student center. They sang, prayed and read the Bible.
"God will bring comfort and understanding to every situation," said Marteece Waters, one of the organizers.
Johnson had recently traveled to North Carolina for a fraternity program emphasizing manhood and scholarship, said Christopher Cooper, a legal officer for Omega Psi Phi fraternity. He said Johnson was "just an excellent, excellent young man."
Members of the university-sanctioned fraternity lived at the house, though the fraternity does not own it.
The police chief said the shootings should not damage the city's reputation for reducing its crime rate in recent years. The city averaged 50 homicides a year in the 1990s, compared to just 20 homicides last year, he said.
But Ryan Wild, a freshman who was sitting outside the prayer service, said any violence in the city poses a risk to the university community.
About 15,000 students attend the urban campus in northeast Ohio near the Pennsylvania state line.
"I feel Youngstown has a reputation of being violent," Wild said. "It's going to take a long time to change people's minds about Youngstown."
Associated Press writers Meghan Barr in Cleveland, Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio, and Sofia Mannos in Washington contributed to this report.