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Police & Fire

Youth played tragic role in year's homicides

  • n3byrdcase-jpg-1

    Demetrius Wimberly, 14, center, is comforted as he is arraigned on the charge of murder Wednesday, December 27, 2017, at Lucas County Juvenile Court in downtown Toledo. Wimberly is one of four boys charged in the death of Marquise Byrd, 22.

    THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
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  • n5crybaby-jpg

    Pedro Salinas, 13, cries as he rests his head on the table before being arraigned on the charge of murder at Lucas County Juvenile Court on Dec. 27, 2017. Salinas is one of four boys charged in the death of Marquise Byrd, 22.

    THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
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  • Toledo-homicides-graph

    A graph, compiled used Toledo police data, showing the number of homicides in Toledo since 1992.

    THE BLADE
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Toledo-homicides-graph

A graph, compiled used Toledo police data, showing the number of homicides in Toledo since 1992.

THE BLADE
Enlarge | Buy This Image

In a year that saw the Toledo area record 40 homicides, Lucas County’s youth played a particularly tragic role in the death toll — as victims, as killers, and as the accused.

In the most recent case, police believe Pedro Salinas, 13; Sean Carter, 14; Demetrius Wimberly, 14; and William Parker, 15, killed Marquise Byrd, 22. Mr. Byrd was a passenger in a vehicle traveling on southbound I-75 and was struck by a sandbag thrown by the teens, who were on the Indiana Avenue overpass, according to Toledo police. Mr. Byrd died Dec. 22 at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center.

Separately, in early August, Thomas Lehman died after an assault in a parking lot in the 5000 block of Douglas Road. His 4-year-old daughter saw the beating as she sat in her father’s car.

Two teens, Roberto Almaguer and Jordan Collins, both 16, were found responsible for Mr. Lehman’s death and sentenced to the Lucas County Youth Treatment Center.

RELATED: Toledo's crime rate relatively low despite recent violent surge

A majority of the juvenile cases in Lucas County this year, however, involved a gun, said Lori Olender, deputy chief of the county prosecutor’s juvenile division.

“It’s a lot of kids with guns in their hands, which is unfortunate,” she said.

Ms. Olender said juvenile court officials are looking to address the issues with community partners through the city.

Toledo recorded eight juveniles killed this year among the 39 total homicides within city limits. The total is a slight increase from 36 homicides last year. Outside of the city, 6-month-old Levi Ashley died of severe head trauma in Oregon.

If Toledo had another homicide, 2017 would be the first time since 1994 that annual homicides reached 40, FBI statistics show. 

The last time there were 39 people in one year was 2012. Comparatively, 10 years ago in 2007, 13 homicides were reported.

This year, young adults were struck by bullets while they sat in their vehicles and others were shot after apparent drug disputes.

Thomas Cauley was fatally stabbed, while Kimberly Klempner died after she had unprotected sex with a man who was HIV-positive and failed to tell her.

Toledo did not register a homicide from Oct. 11 through Nov. 8. After that, killings occurred at an increased rate through late fall.

The city recorded four fatal shootings in slightly more than four weeks. In an incident Dec. 26, at least a dozen shots were fired at a car about 10 a.m. in the 1500 block of Vance Street.

n5crybaby-jpg

Pedro Salinas, 13, cries as he rests his head on the table before being arraigned on the charge of murder at Lucas County Juvenile Court on Dec. 27, 2017. Salinas is one of four boys charged in the death of Marquise Byrd, 22.

THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
Enlarge | Buy This Image

MORE: Area shootings blamed on gang activity

Victims’ families, friends, neighbors, and city officials pleaded for the violence to stop throughout the year.

Family of Dakoda Rogers said it was difficult getting through the holidays without him. His sister Kelsey described him as a fun-loving uncle to her four children. He put family first, his mother said.

Mr. Rogers, 25, was shot while in a South Toledo parking lot and later died at the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio, according to police.

His grandmother, Barbara Gorsuch, said Mr. Rogers was planning to buy his mother new appliances for Christmas.

“He didn’t care if he got anything, if he could put a smile on someone else’s face, that was enough for him. That’s what he lived for,” Mr. Rogers' mother, Stacie Gorsuch, said after her son's death.

Investigators continue to search for the shooter in that case.

After an officer was wounded in November during a raid of a West Toledo home, Toledo Police Chief George Kral warned criminals not to bring guns onto the city’s streets, not to shoot at Toledo’s citizens, and especially not to shoot at officers sworn to protect and serve.

“If you do any of these things, I will move heaven and Earth to hunt you down, take you into custody, and publicly advocate for the harshest legal charges and longest prison sentences possible,” he has said. 

His department this year started a program to address neighborhoods most prone to gun violence. 

Operation STOP — Strategic Tactical Operational Policing — combines crime data with community policing on a door-to-door level. Police saturate an area, explain to residents why they’re there, and, when warranted, outline the circumstances that lead to search warrants.

Toledo police have solved 22 of their homicide cases from this year, with 16 unsolved. The department’s official count only tallies 38 homicides. It doesn’t count the State Highway Patrol’s case of an inmate — “Angel of Death” Donald Harvey — who was killed while he was incarcerated at Toledo Correctional Institute. The Blade considers Mr. Harvey’s assault in it’s total numbers since the incident happened within city limits.

Contact Allison Reamer at areamer@theblade.com, 419-724-6506 or on Twitter @AllisonRBlade.

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