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Toledo police continue to investigate double homicide

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    Colleen Stamper. She and Santiago Rease were shot to death in a North Toledo alley Thursday evening, Jan. 11. She attended Woodward High School.

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    Toledo Police cruiser

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Rosa Smith’s daughter stopped at her North Toledo home Thursday, just to give her mother a hug and kiss.

It was the last time Ms. Smith, 59, saw her daughter, Colleen Stamper.

Miss Stamper, 19, and Santiago Rease, 20, were both fatally shot Thursday while they were in an alley in the 2800 block of North Erie Street. Toledo police continue to investigate.

Not long after Miss Stamper, a nursing student at Owens Community College, left the Chase Street home Thursday, Ms. Smith began receiving messages that something had happened — possibly involving her daughter.

Miss Stamper was supposed to let her mother know when she made it to her own home on North Erie Street, just a block away from her mother’s house, but she never did.

RELATED: 2 who died in North Toledo shooting had multiple gunshot wounds

Police were dispatched at about 7:10 p.m. to the alley, where they found Miss Stamper and Mr. Rease. Toledo Police Chief George Kral took to Twitter Friday to call the “senseless violence” a “cowardly act.” 

Investigators said Miss Stamper and Mr. Rease may have been robbed before the shooting incident, but police are looking into all possible angles, including drugs, Chief Kral said.  

“There is a lot of guns and a lot of dope on the street. When you put those together, nothing good comes of it,” he said Friday. 

Ms. Smith went to the crime scene, which was blocked by yellow tape and police. A detective frequently checked in with her and other family members on scene, but he could not provide specific information, Ms. Smith said.

The family waited outside the scene for hours, Ms. Smith said.

“You just have to keep it together, I have to be there for my baby and know what happened,” Ms. Smith said. “Praying, waiting, hoping. Praying.”

Finally, the mother identified her daughter through a photo an official took at the scene.

“It’s just so senseless. It’s crazy. I never thought we would go through this,” Ms. Smith said. “Never. Never in a million years.”

Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz on Friday called for more action against violent crimes. 

“This senseless criminal activity further demonstrates the need for bold action to address gun violence in our community,” he said Friday in a statement. “Police Chief Kral and I continue to discuss implementation of a local version of ‘Not In My House,’ a program that involves parents and grandparents turning in weapons and drugs owned by a juvenile in their home with no legal consequences. This violence is not acceptable, and neither is sheltering those who commit these violent acts.”

The deaths of Mr. Rease and Miss Stamper brought Toledo’s 2018 homicide total up to four — just 12 days into the new year. 

Quincy Holmes, 24, died of a gunshot wound early Jan. 1. An 11-month-old baby, Nehemiah Wright, was also killed Jan. 1. His mother’s boyfriend, Eric Mathis, is charged with aggravated murder in connection to the baby’s death.

Comparatively, there were five homicide-related deaths in January, 2017, and a total of 39 within city limits last year. The city’s annual homicide total last reached 40 in 1994, when the city's population was tens of thousands of residents larger than it is today.

Toledo leaders in early December offered tough talk and promises of new initiatives amid a stretch of intense gun violence punctuated by several killings, a detective wounded by a bullet, and police exchanging gunfire with suspected gang members outside a central-city carryout.

Chief Kral and other city, county, and federal officials highlighted arrests made after that firefight as a significant blow to the gun violence that was plaguing Toledo.

The chief on Friday said police continue to use crime data to determine where to send patrol units. He said the department will also gain more officers when a group graduates from the police academy next month. Extra officers on the street always helps, the chief said. 

He encouraged residents to call police when they see something suspicious. 

“If someone would have looked out the window to call ... we could have been out there quicker,” he said of Thursday’s killings. 

Miss Stamper’s family said they don’t know what she was doing or where she was going Thursday.

“I think we’re just all in shock. We’re trying to keep it together and get what needs to get done, done,” Ms. Smith said.

Miss Stamper was a 2016 Woodward graduate and played multiple sports. She wanted to go into nursing, and she was working three jobs — including assisting students in an after-school program and working with the elderly, her family said.

“She was loving, smart, beautiful,” Ms. Smith said, crying. “She had a good head on her shoulder.”

Miss Stamper was closest with her older sister, Cierra Stamper, 20. They’re only a year and six days apart.

“She’s my best friend, and she’s never going to come back. So it’s hard,” Cierra Stamper said.

Ms. Smith said her daughter and Mr. Rease had previously been in a relationship. She declined to speak about him.

Attempts made to reach out to Mr. Rease’s family were unsuccessful Friday.

No arrests have been made in connection to the incident. 

Anyone with information should contact the Crime Stopper program at 419-255-1111.

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

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