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Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 3/26/2013

Mourners gather at crime scene for vigil honoring slain woman

BLADE STAFF

More than 200 people attended a candlelight vigil Monday night in a South Toledo shopping plaza for a 20-year-old woman who was chased down in her car and shot by her former boyfriend.

Family and friends gathered to remember Kaitlin Gerber at the Southland Shopping Center at Byrne Road and Glendale Avenue, where Miss Gerber was shot four times in the back Sunday by Jashua Perz, 29.

Perz later took his own life after a standoff with police.

Lighted candles were distributed to people who gathered in the parking area near Byrne. Participants signed a poster expressing their sympathy to the family for their loss. Some in attendance held photographs of Miss Gerber, and others wore T-shirts with her picture.

The victim’s parents, Jeff and Jeanette Gerber, were among the mourners in the crowd.

Mrs. Gerber, who is a University of Toledo police officer, hugged her daughter’s co-workers and broke into tears as they shared memories and anecdotes about how much she loved her job at Lexus of Toledo.

Missy Walsh, office manager at the auto dealership in Sylvania Township, said she was a conscientious employee who was well liked by customers, many of whom called throughout the day to give their condolences.

“If she was going to be late for work she would text me,” she said. “She was A plus, a hard worker, and gorgeous.”

She and Jody Sohnly, who also works at Lexus, said she was known for her large collection of perfumes and her ability to eat a lot but not gain weight.

“She was very thorough. She was smart. She was always volunteering and always willing to take on new work. She was just a ray of sunshine,” Ms. Sohnly said.

Tony Oberneder and Kevin Zimmerman were among the UT police officers who attended the vigil. They said Mrs. Gerber, who has been with the department for about 10 years, is a loving mother.

“It is just sad. It breaks our hearts,” Officer Oberneder said.

“This absolutely broke my heart yesterday when I heard about it. I know that this has to be weighing heavily on her heart,” Officer Zimmerman said about Mrs. Gerber.

— Mark Reiter



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