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Published: Friday, 1/19/2001

Lima shop reopens as slainowner is mourned

BY KIM BATES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

LIMA, Ohio - Business resumed at a normal pace here yesterday at the Trendsetter Fashion store, the popular clothing business that was owned by a local man who was killed Wednesday.

Friends and customers stopped inside the store during the afternoon to chat with a clerk about Damon Watkins, Sr., 22, who had just moved his adult and children's clothing store to the Lima Mall a few months ago.

“This just shouldn't have happened,” said Maurice Jones, who said he shopped at Mr. Watkins's store. “He was always so friendly and he worked hard.”

Mr. Watkins was found dead inside the kitchen of his East Elm Street home on Lima's east side shortly after midnight on Wednesday.

His was the first murder in Lima this year. Last year, seven people were killed, five of whom were sleeping inside a city home when two molotov cocktails were thrown into the dwelling.

An autopsy performed yesterday in Lucas County showed Mr. Watkins died from gunshot wounds, Allen County Coroner Dr. William Wright said. Dr. Wright refused to say where the wounds were on the body, saying it was part of the police investigation.

Lima police Maj. Larry Winegardner said police are following several leads into Mr. Watkins's death.

“We feel our investigation is progressing satisfactorily,” Major Winegardner said. “We are making progress with leads and witnesses.”

He refused to say how many people witnessed the shooting and declined to provide a motive.

“It's just too early to say,” Major Winegardner said.

He said Mr. Watkins had experienced problems with the law in the past, but he hadn't been convicted of a crime in about three years.

Mr. Watkins's mother, Kaylean, was at her son's home yesterday with a few family members and friends. She declined to comment about her son's death.

But neighbors said Mr. Watkins was friendly and often talked about his business.

“He seemed dedicated to what he did,” said Roger Cummins, who lives nearby.

A clerk at the Trendsetter store, who refused to give her name, said Mr. Watkins's identical twin brother, Damont, had stopped in to check on the business several times yesterday.

She said Damont planned to keep the business operating in his brother's memory.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Jones-Clark Funeral Home. A funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday at the Grace Church Ministry on Wells Drive.



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