The GLENVILLE SHOOTOUT (23 July 1968) was a violent gunfight that began at 8:30 PM between the CLEVELAND POLICE and an armed black militant group called the Black Nationalists of New Libya, led by Fred “Ahmed” Evans. The incident resulted in casualties on both sides. The versions of what happened that evening are disputed; the police say they were ambushed while Evans insisted that it was the police who fired the first shots.
Cleveland Police put Evans under surveillance acting on community tips (some of which came from an alleged aid FBI informant) that Evans and his group were stockpiling weapons. Evans had a turbulent history with the polices and, rightfully or otherwise, the surveillance pushed him into a heightened state of paranoia. Unrelated to Evans and the surveillance team, city tow truck driver William McMillan, was dispatched to the area to remove an abandoned vehicle from Beulah Avenue between E. 123rd Street and Lakeview Road just as the violence broke out. McMillan claimed that a man with a shotgun (who had possibly mistaken him for a police officer due to the color of his uniform) opened fire on him. That was followed by a volley of sniper fire from the bushes in front of his tow truck. McMillan identified one of the snipers as Evans. Evans recounted it differently. In his account, he was around the corner walking to the Lakeview Tavern when he heard a single shot and saw McMillan running toward him, followed by machine gun fire which killed one of his associates, Amir Iber Katir. Evans' testimony that the first victim was a black nationalist agrees with the Cleveland Police's version of events. The shootout lasted for an hour with casualties on both sides. In total, there were twenty-two casualties and six deaths. Evans eventually surrendered after his carbine jammed telling the trio of arresting officers, "If my carbine hadn't jammed I would have killed you three."
The police claims that they were ambushed could be called into question by the fact that there was no connection between Evans and his group and the owner of the abandoned car. However, one of Evans' followers testified that Evans instructed them to take up arms and kill police. Evans was convicted on seven counts of first-degree murder on May 12, 1969 and sentenced to death by electrocution, a sentence that would be commuted to life in 1972. The shootout preceded the GLENVILLE RIOTS which raged in the neighborhood for the following four days.
Masotti, Louis H., and Jerome R. Corsi. Shoot-out in Cleveland (1969).