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Toledo man, 47, dies after being shot in vehicle

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Victoria Escareno, 18, said that although she didn't know Gregory Cerveny well, his sons were former playmates of hers.

The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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A.J. Escareno said it was "surreal" when he recognized his childhood friend as the victim of a fatal shooting only a block from his home on Caledonia Street Sunday.

His friend, Gregory Cerveny, 47, of Toledo, had gone to him whenever he needed help, and Mr. Escareno, 49, said he probably drove to a familiar place after he realized he was in trouble.

Cerveny was shot while driving his vehicle past 2006 Genesee St. about 4 a.m. Sunday.

He managed to drive a few blocks to Caledonia and Bogar Avenue, where he crashed the vehicle, collapsed, and died, according to Toledo police.

Some residents who live in the neighborhood where Cerveny was found said it appeared he had been shot multiple times.

His death is the 17th homicide in Toledo this year.

Mr. Escareno's daughter Victoria, 18, first learned of the shooting when her older sister at Ohio State University called and told her.

Her sister had seen a neighbor's Facebook status mentioning that someone had died near her parents' home.

Ms. Escareno immediately ran to tell her parents and went with her father to the scene a little more than four houses away.

There she saw Cerveny's body lying next to his car, which had crashed into and knocked over a metal pole.

She said the victim was a "big guy, very tall," so she wasn't surprised he still could drive after being shot multiple times.

"The police yelled at my dad because he was trying to see the body. … I just told them, 'He's just worried it's his friend,'" she said.

She said that although she didn't know Cerveny well, she said played with his sons as a child.

Mr. Escareno said he thought it was his responsibility to let the victim's brother Douglas Cerveny know about the incident. The two had not talked in several years, although they were close as children.

Douglas Cerveny, 50, at first did not believe the news he received at 6 Sunday morning.

"I talked to him Friday. He seemed like he was OK then - he went to a cookout," he said. "I guess someone had it out for him."

He said his brother had returned from Florida recently and was staying with his ex-wife and their two children while trying to get on his feet. Cerveny was working as a welder for an automotive company.

His ex-wife, Michelle Coughlin, declined to comment Sunday.

Mr. Escareno said Cerveny had worked in the past as an underwater welder, and that he once entered a "tough-guy contest."

He said he used to play outdoors often with the Cerveny brothers. The three joined Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts together as children.

Although he fell out of contact with Douglas Cerveny, Mr. Escareno said he saw Gregory Cerveny often in the past two years. In one incident, Cerveny visited him on a rainy day after having run out of gas.

"I asked him how he was so foolish to run out of gas on a rainy day. I asked him if he was OK and he seemed OK," Mr. Escareno said. "I was happy for him."

After the police left the scene, Ms. Escareno said she made sure to clean up the blood so no one would have to see it.

"I filled up buckets of water and cleaned it up. There are too many kids around to leave it there," she said.

The coroner's office expects to conduct an autopsy Monday.

Contact Aliyya Swaby at:

Aswaby@theblade.com or

419-724-6050

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