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Undercover DEA agent shoots 20-year-old man police say was armed on Cleveland’s East Side

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 4/15/2021 Cory Shaffer, cleveland.com
a group of people standing in a parking lot: Law enforcement is investigating an undercover DEA agent's shooting of a man at East 82nd Street and Decker Avenue in Cleveland on April 14, 2021. © Cory Shaffer/cleveland.com Law enforcement is investigating an undercover DEA agent's shooting of a man at East 82nd Street and Decker Avenue in Cleveland on April 14, 2021.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Authorities are investigating a shooting involving a federal agent who shot a man at East 82nd and Decker Avenue on Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators said undercover officers of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in an unmarked vehicle were conducting an investigation in the neighborhood when two men, apparently unrelated to the probe, approached.

One of the men brandished a gun, prompting an agent to leave his vehicle and fire his weapon, said Keith Martin, the DEA’s special-agent-in-charge.

Martin told reporters that “shots were exchanged.” The DEA agent was not injured. When questioned further by reporters, Martin said he did not know whether the man had the gun in his hand or in his waistband, only that it was “brandished.” He also said he did not know whether the man had fired shots at the agent.

Martin spoke alongside Calvin Williams, Cleveland’s police chief, who said his agency will investigate the shooting. Members of the department’s use of deadly force investigation team were collecting evidence at the scene until about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Martin said his agency will cooperate with the probe with “full transparency.”

a car parked in a parking lot: Law enforcement investigates an undercover DEA agent's shooting of a man at East 82nd Street and Decker Avenue in Cleveland on April 14, 2021. © Cory Shaffer/cleveland.com Law enforcement investigates an undercover DEA agent's shooting of a man at East 82nd Street and Decker Avenue in Cleveland on April 14, 2021.

Dianna Johnson told cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer that her son, Trayvon Johnson, 20, had been shot by the agent. He had been taken to University Hospitals. The extent of his injuries was unclear.

a police car parked in a parking lot: Law enforcement investigates after an undercover DEA agent shot a man at East 82nd Street and Decker Avenue in Cleveland on April 14, 2021. © Cory Shaffer/cleveland.com Law enforcement investigates after an undercover DEA agent shot a man at East 82nd Street and Decker Avenue in Cleveland on April 14, 2021.

Johnson said her son had just been dropped off at his house when he noticed two men sitting nearby in a car. She said he went to see why they were there, as there had been a shooting at the house a few years ago.

“When we see people sitting outside our house, we think they’re trying to shoot into house again,” she said.

That’s when she said the agent jumped out of the car and shot her son in the stomach.

Detectives appeared to be focusing the investigation on a pink house at the corner of East 82nd and Decker and a white GMC SUV parked on the street in front of the house, facing north.

Authorities said they detained the second man who approached the agents’ car. He was placed in a squad car and later released.

a truck is parked in a parking lot: A heavy law enforcement presence at East 82nd Street and Decker Avenue Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Agencies on scene include Cleveland police, ATF, DEA, Ohio Highway Patrol and the U.S. Marshal's Service. Officials have not said why they are there. © Cory Shaffer/cleveland.com A heavy law enforcement presence at East 82nd Street and Decker Avenue Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Agencies on scene include Cleveland police, ATF, DEA, Ohio Highway Patrol and the U.S. Marshal's Service. Officials have not said why they are there.

Dianna Johnson said that the second man was her other son and Trayvon Johnson’s brother. She said the brother was inside the home when Trayvon got home, and walked outside when the shooting occurred.

Investigators did not identify him. It is nclear whether the men and the DEA agents had spoken prior to the shooting.

“We’re praying that the person who was injured is OK,” Williams told reporters. He asked for patience from residents.

“Regardless of what is happening across the country, the [police officers] here in Cleveland are out here to protect our community,” Williams said. “When guns become involved in things, there is always a possibility of things like this happening.”

Ohio is an open carry state.

The incident drew immediate response by law enforcement. Top officials from Cleveland police, including Williams, rushed to the neighborhood, as did officials from the DEA, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Ohio Highway Patrol.

a group of people riding on the back of a car: Police investigate at East 82nd Street and Decker Avenue in Cleveland. © Cory Shaffer/cleveland.com Police investigate at East 82nd Street and Decker Avenue in Cleveland. a group of lawn chairs sitting on top of a grass covered field: Police investigate at East 82nd Street and Decker Avenue. © Cory Shaffer/cleveland.com Police investigate at East 82nd Street and Decker Avenue.
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