LIMA, Ohio Darla Jennings walked through the streets of south Lima last night sobbing as hundreds of people behind her called for justice after the shooting of her daughter, who was killed by police as she held her baby.
Tarika Wilson, 26, was shot and her 1-year-old son was wounded when Lima police conducted a drug raid on their home Friday night, prompting members of the black community to organize a candlelight vigil and demand answers from police.
"They shot my daughter and her baby," Ms. Jennings said through tears while being consoled by other family members. "The police have to pay for what they did. They went in that home shooting and killed her."
Police were there to arrest Ms. Wilson's boyfriend, Anthony Terry, 31, who was suspected of selling drugs from the house; he was arrested Friday night at the residence. Marijuana and crack cocaine were found in the house.
Ms. Wilson, the mother of six children, ages 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8, was pronounced dead at 218 East Third St., where SWAT team police officers executed a search warrant at 8:15 p.m. Ms. Wilson's youngest child, Sincere Wilson, was shot during the drug raid as she held him.
Ms. Jennings said the boy's arm was badly hurt and at least one finger was amputated. The child was taken by helicopter to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus. There was no condition available from the hospital yesterday. Police said the child was in stable condition.
All six children were home with the couple at the time of the shooting, police said.
Lima Police Chief Greg Garlock would not identify the officer involved in the shooting but said that he has been placed on administrative leave. He did not know how many officers entered the house and provided no details of the raid or what prompted the fatal shooting.
The chief said the search warrant resulted from a "long-term investigation" of the boyfriend. He was arrested on suspicion of possession of crack cocaine and was being held last night in the Allen County jail.
"This is a terrible situation that resulted from a very dangerous situation that occurs when a high-risk search warrant is executed," Chief Garlock said.
Both the chief and Lima Mayor David Berger offered condolences to the Wilson family.
Despite claims by Ms. Wilson's family that police had raided the wrong house, Chief Garlock confirmed that the search warrant was executed at the correct address. He said officers were aware that children were inside the home because there were toys in the yard outside and on the front porch.
Officers used at least one stun grenade to create a loud noise prior to entering the residence, but the charges were detonated outside, the chief said.
"Because of the possibility that we had children in there, they were not lobbed inside," he said.
Two pit bulls that were inside the home also were shot by police, Chief Garlock said. One of the dogs died from its injuries.
Lima police called the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation Friday night to take over the investigation because the shooting involved a Lima police officer.
Community leaders expressed outrage last night but urged calm to the crowd of about 300 people who marched with family members from the Cheryl Allen Southside Center to the home about seven blocks away where Ms. Wilson was killed.
"Remember that baby who is in a hospital and that woman laying on a slab being dissected because the Lima police overstepped their bounds," Brenda Johnson, executive director of the community center, told the crowd before the march began.
Ms. Johnson said it was reckless for police to raid a home with so many children inside.
"This time it was someone else's child," she said. "Next time it could be your child, your grandchild."
Junior Cook, Ms. Wilson's cousin and next-door neighbor, said police "broke down the door and started shooting."
He denied police claims that Terry sold drugs from the house.
"No one ever came and knocked on that door or bought drugs there," Mr. Cook said.
Police Maj. Richard Shade, a former SWAT commander for the department, said it's not unusual for children to be inside homes raided by police officers.
"I have no doubt he was selling drugs from the house and that's why we had a search warrant," Major Shade said.
People prayed, sang, and chanted "truth and justice" in front of the home last night.
Many people wept as Pastor C.M. Manley of New Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church led them in song.
People laid stuffed animals in front of the home and placed a banner with prayers for the family. It also contained slurs against white police officers.
A tense moment was averted when a man crossed police line tape to attach
the banner to the home. People yelled and chanted as an officer directed him back toward the sidewalk.
"Not all the police are bad. Some of them have children," Pastor Arnold Manley of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church told the crowd. "But the majority of the ones in Lima are."
The crowd then marched more than 1 miles to the Lima Police Department. They vowed to return each Saturday until they had answers and justice.
Family members said Terry, who was convicted in 1994 on drug trafficking and weapons charges, had been dating Ms. Wilson for nearly two years.
Debbie Ballentine, who is the aunt of Ms. Wilson's 4-year-old son, said the children are now in the care of relatives. She said the oldest daughter, 8, told relatives that she heard her mother cry out and then fall after she was shot.
Ms. Ballentine said Ms. Wilson was a stay-at-home mother who "took care of kids and went to bingo." She was born and raised in Lima, Ms. Ballentine added.
She said the children were taken by police from the home and kept for more than an hour before relatives were able to take them home. Ms. Wilson's eldest daughter told her aunts that she heard her mother running upstairs after police detonated the charges to where the six children were.
Lima Councilman Derry Glenn owns the house but did not live there. Mr. Glenn last night called for an independent investigation from the Ohio attorney general's office.
"I am very upset about the way this happened," he said. "I feel we need a thorough investigation. The first murder in 2008 came from a police officer."
Contact Ignazio Messina at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6171.