As we prepare to remember those who passed away and we begin to collect the names of those to read on December 21, 2012, we were sad to see the news that two homeless people were killed in East Cleveland after a high speed chase and an overwhelming number of bullets. We reserve making any statements on the situation in East Cleveland while we wait for the results of the investigation being conducted by law enforcement. We agree with the families who want to see a federal investigation of this shooting. We know that Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell were both homeless. Staff did not know Mr. Russell, but we had contact with Ms. Williams a number of times. We know that she smiled a great deal, and it was obvious that she had a mental illness. We know that she was dressed in clothing that was way too big for her, and she seemed to live in her own world. She had very little interaction with the others at the shelters, and was reluctant to engage people that she did not know. She did not cause much trouble for the shelter staff.
Both facilities that these individuals lived in most recently have metal detectors so if they did had guns they were not bringing them into the shelters. One of the facilities has an armed police officer on the premise 24 hours a day, so it is unlikely that Ms. Williams had a weapon of her own while sleeping in the shelter. We will include both their names as we read the names of those who passed away at the Metanoia Project at St. Malachi on December 21, 2012. It is hard to understand how Ms. Williams could have been involved in this situation.
Update: We have found that our board treasurer was the sister of Timothy Russell. Michelle and the family are extremely upset and are asking for prayers from the public as they grieve. I talked to a few workers from shelters who knew Mr Russell and said that he seemed like a calm guy. Michelle said her brother was not violent, and did not have a gun. This entire situation raises so many questions about excessive use of force. We hope that the FBI can shed some light on the pursuit and the use of force against two homeless people. The entire Board of the Coalition would like to express our deep condolences to the Williams and the Russell families. We will hold a moment of silence at the Hand Up Gala in memory of our two friends.
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