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Police & Fire

2 more Trenton Avenue arsons probed as part of feud

Police looking at related shootings

  • n3feud

    Fires destroy two homes in the 2400 block of Trenton Avenue in Toledo. Local officials are investigating whether they are related to recent arsons and shootings in the city.

    THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
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  • trenton-avenue-fire

    Firefighters clean up at the scene of a fire that destroyed two vacant houses in Central Toledo.

    THE BLADE/MIKE SIGOV
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Neighbors were rattled Monday after two more arsons in the 2400 block of Trenton Avenue.

A pair of vacant homes at 2424 and 2428 Trenton in the central city were set ablaze on the block, which has been the scene of a fire and a triple shooting in recent months.

“I don’t like it. It’s getting on my nerves,” Nena McCoy, 23, a neighbor, said.

n3feud

Fires destroy two homes in the 2400 block of Trenton Avenue in Toledo. Local officials are investigating whether they are related to recent arsons and shootings in the city.

THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
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Her neighbor, Beth Cousino, 61, was also upset.

“I heard an explosion about 5:15 a.m., and then saw the fire trucks,” Ms. Cousino said. “I was scared but not as scared as when the first fire happened there a couple of weeks ago. It’s becoming a routine. That’s very sad.”

The fire was reported at 5:23 a.m., a fire dispatcher said. Fire crews extinguished the blaze by about 9:35 a.m., by which time both vacant houses were a total loss, she said. There were no reported injuries.

Toledo fire Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld said the fire, which started at 2424 Trenton, was set intentionally. Damage at that address was put at about $26,900, he said. A damage estimate for the house at 2428 Trenton was not available.

Lucas County records list Homer and Esther Willis as the owners of the two houses. The 1½-story wood frame houses were built in 1917.

An earlier fire — on May 25 — at 2428 Trenton was believed to have been set as part of the ongoing feud, authorities have said. No injuries were reported from that fire, which caused an estimated $30,000 in damage. Toledo police Lt. Joe Heffernan said investigators determined the fire to be an arson case.

Ms. Willis was among three people shot in a drive-by shooting May 9 in the same block. Also shot was Lamonte Hopings, 61, who is believed to have been the intended target, and was struck in the head and critically injured.

Another arson fire caused about $8,000 damage to a home at 2427 Trenton Ave. on May 17, according to the Toledo Fire Department.

That house is owned by Bianca Hampton, the mother of Ronnie Hopings, 39, who died after he was shot March 16 just outside his West Toledo residence in the 2000 block of Wellesley Drive.

Police at the time said they were investigating how that homicide may be related to two other May incidents, including the May 8 death of Eugene Blackman, 36, who was shot outside a West Toledo bar. Police charged Telly Hopings, Jr., 22, with murder in that case.

Investigators have determined the three Hopings men are related.

Toledo Police Chief George Kral on May 20 in his weekly report to Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson acknowledged that a veritable family feud has been ongoing. Referring to the May 17 fire at 2427 Trenton, the chief said the home “belongs to a family member in an ongoing dispute between two families that has resulted in considerable violence recently.”

The chief said a May 19 fire at 353 Belmont, the Belmont Store, was also related to the feud.

“The carryout belongs to the other party in this same dispute,” Chief Kral wrote. “This fire was also of a suspicious nature and arson investigators were called. There are a number of family members and other gang members associated with them [who] have pledged to continue the violence and are not amenable to mediation in this feud.”

Ms. Cousino said she had lived in her house in the 2400 block of Trenton for the past 12 years and that she had grown up in the neighborhood.

“There used to be little problems here like fistfights but nothing as serious as this,” Ms. Cousino said. “It’s sad that people have to murder and do other things over trivial disagreements. It’s not worth murder and arson.”

Mayor Hicks-Hudson acknowledged the feud is a problem for public safety.

“The police have increased their presence and surveillance as well as trying to do whatever they can to quell this,” Mayor Hicks-Hudson said. “The problem is you have people bent on breaking the law.”

The mayor said officers were monitoring the Belmont store but were called to another emergency.

“When the police left, that is when it was hit again,” she said. “That is the problem because the police cannot be everywhere at once. ... I have asked the police to take every opportunity to enforce the law.”

Staff writer Ignazio Messina contributed to this report.

Contact Mike Sigov at: sigov@theblade.com, 419-724-6089, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.

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