A ride through a West Toledo neighborhood with three friends in the front seat of a pickup truck ended with an 18-year-old dead, his body dropped on the pavement, along with the gun that killed him.
Toledo police said Fitzgerald Robbins, 18, of 1208 Parkside Blvd., was the victim of a game of Russian roulette.
But Mr. Robbins' distraught mother, Marcy Turner, questioned the story, saying it conveniently excuses two juveniles from responsibility.
"It may have been an accident, but I don't believe the Russian roulette story," Ms. Turner said.
The young man died of a single gunshot wound in the head, Lucas County Coroner James Patrick said.
There is no evidence the death was a homicide, he added.
According to police, Mr. Robbins was riding in his 17-year-old friend's vehicle, along with the friend's 14-year-old girlfriend, about 5:40 p.m. Thursday in the 3400 block of Lincolnshire Boulevard when the shooting occurred. Police Detective Danny Navarre said he interviewed the two surviving teenagers after they called to give themselves up - and after they washed the blood out of the truck.
Their account was that the two males had driven to Bowsher High School to pick up the girl who was a student there for a trip to Westfield Franklin Park mall. After leaving the mall, they drove, with rap music on the CD player, through the Lincolnshire neighborhood on their way from the mall to the University of Toledo where Mr. Robbins' girlfriend lived on campus.
Mr. Robbins had a Smith & Wesson 38-special handgun, with its serial numbers filed down, indicating it had been stolen, the detective said.
That's when the subject of Russian roulette was brought up by the girl.
"They had been talking about it earlier and she was fascinated with it," Detective Navarre said. "She wanted to know how they played it. She didn't want them to do it but she wanted to know how to play."
He said the two males wanted the 14-year-old to also play, but she refused.
Mr. Navarre said that, while the truck was being driven, Mr. Robbins put two bullets in the revolver, pointed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger. The weapon did not fire.
When it was the 17-year-old's turn he noticed that one of the bullets was showing and realized the other was the next round to be fired.
"He said, 'I'm not going to do it, the bullet's up next,'•" and gave the gun back to Mr. Robbins, who then spun the cylinder, aimed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger a second time, according to Detective Navarre. This time it fired, killing him.
According to a preliminary autopsy by the coroner's office the 18-year-old died of a self-inflicted gunshot in the head.
Police said the 17-year-old stopped the truck in the middle of the street. He and the 14-year-old got out and removed Mr. Robbins' body, leaving it in the street, along with the gun, which fell from the truck.
The girl ran up to a motorist who had arrived about the same time and asked her to call 911.
Detective Navarre said the 17-year-old retrieved a cell phone from Mr. Robbins' pocket and left after a short time, before emergency crews arrived. He said they contacted police about an hour later from a home, and police picked them up and took them downtown for questioning.
Witness Jordan Becker, 18, of the 3600 block of Lincolnshire, who arrived on the scene to see the body on the ground, said it appeared that the 17-year-old was trying to rouse his friend.
"The guy obviously knew him, he was like, 'come, on dude,' and stuff like that," Mr. Becker said.
Mr. Robbins was a student at Toledo Preparatory Academy, 540 Independence Rd. in South Toledo. The 17-year-old is a student at the same school.
In an interview last night, Mr. Robbins' mother disagreed that the gun belonged to her son, who was known as Adrian.
She said it belonged to the friend.
Detective Navarre said Mr. Robbins' girlfriend identified the gun and said she'd seen him with it before.
Ms. Turner said she was upset and worried after getting a phone call from the 17-year-old friend to tell her that her son was dead.
She said family members learned from news reports and from phone calls from other people who heard the story where the shooting had taken place, and went there looking for his body, but it was gone. She identified her son's body yesterday afternoon at the coroner's office.
"[The police are] taking the word of an individual who took a so-called friend and pushed him out the truck and left him to die like an animal in the street," Ms. Turner said. She said the youth made several other phone calls in addition to calling her.
"I think it's a lot of stuff that they're not telling. They told the police a convenient story, the story to clear themselves. We'll never know. How does one human being leave another human being dead in the street?" she asked. "They can say whatever. Who's there to dispute it?"
She said her son had many siblings and half-siblings, and that family and friends had shown up to share their grief.
"Relatives, family, friends, we're consoling each other. A lot of people have lost somebody. We are having a hard time understanding the events that took place," Ms. Turner said.
Detective Navarre said no charges have been brought. He said the juveniles could be charged with tampering with evidence because they took the truck home and washed the blood out of it.
But he noted that they made sure 911 was called and then contacted police to report their involvement.
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