Two Toledo families were mourning Saturday the deaths of two young men — both shot and killed in separate incidents that marked the final two homicides in the city for 2011.
HOMICIDE REPORT: Toledo-area killings
Antonio Johnson, 27, was shot to death Friday afternoon at 1937 Parkdale Avenue, the home of the suspect. Police have arrested and charged with murder Mr. Johnson’s cousin, 35-year-old James C. Smith.
Mr. Johnson’s mother, Lisa Wright, said her son was killed “needlessly and “senselessly” over an alleged disagreement with something posted on Facebook.
“This is senseless. He had a heart of gold. [The shooter] was upset about something posted on Facebook. My son lost his life over Facebook,” Ms. Wright said.
The two also had a disagreement over a broken signal light on a vehicle, she said.
Mr. Smith of 1937 Parkdale Ave. was arraigned Saturday in Toledo Municipal Court. He is being held in the Lucas County jail in lieu of $1 million bond.
Hours after Mr. Johnson was killed, 17-year-old Deadrick Rocker, the 38th homicide victim of 2011, was gunned down at about 11:50 p.m. Friday at the corner of Hoag and Tecumseh streets in Central Toledo as he and another teen were leaving a social gathering, said Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan.
The other teen, a 16-year-old boy who has not been identified, was critically injured, authorities said.
Both boys were shot multiple times, although it’s unclear where on their bodies they were hit. Neither authorities nor family members of young Rocker could establish a clear connection between the two teens.
Lucas County Coroner Dr. James Patrick said an autopsy for the Rocker youth had not yet been set.
Police believe an initial call came in from a man who was driving in the area and saw the bodies in the street.
Both victims were taken to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, where the 17-year-old victim was pronounced dead shortly after arrival and the 16-year-old victim was taken into surgery.
Sergeant Heffernan said no suspects had been named in the later incident.
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About 50 people gathered for a vigil Saturday night at the site where young Rocker — who was known to his friends and family as “Pooh” — was killed.
Shavone Belcher, the boy’s cousin, said he was “a good kid who never caused any trouble.”
Also among the mourners were young Rocker’s sisters and brother.
Pictures of the victim on Facebook show him flashing gang signs, but his best friend, Rhay Villolovos, said he was not in a gang. Esquitisha Hawkins, one of young Rocker’s sister at the vigil, said she wasn’t sure whether he was in a gang.
“He was a good person. He was always smiling and always laughing. Was he in a gang? I guess you could say that is why all these people are here,” Ms. Hawkins said of those at the vigil. “I told him to stay off these streets, but we grew up on this side of town and these are his friends too.”
The 17-year-old was living with his mother in West Toledo, Ms. Hawkins said.
Regarding Mr. Johnson’s death, Sergeant Heffernan said the circumstances for the shooting are unclear, but there appeared to be an ongoing argument between Mr. Johnson and Mr. Smith that culminated in the Friday shooting.
“Did [the suspect] shoot out of anger or did he shoot for safety? It’s a little gray right now,” Sergeant Heffernan said. The murder charge was filed after police took a statement from Mr. Smith and then consulted with the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office, he said.
Mr. Johnson was taken to Toledo Hospital where he was pronounced dead, authorities said.
According to a police statement, Mr. Johnson, whose address was not listed, traveled to the Parkdale address at about 4:15 p.m. and pounded first on a screen door and then, after breaking that door, on the main door. Police say Mr. Smith fired one shot through the door that struck Mr. Johnson in the chest.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: email@example.com or 419-724-6171.