In a small, crowded room on Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center’s sixth floor Monday, a family struggled with emotions.
Naomi Reed was sure both of her great-granddaughters — Leondra and Keondra Hooks — would die after they were shot as they slept inside the Moody Manor apartment where they lived.
Although Keondra, 1, died about 12 hours after being shot in the head late Thursday, Leondra, 2, wounded in the chest, continues to improve.
“It’s almost like Keondra gave her life for Leondra,” said Bernice Neal, 27, the girls’ aunt. “When Keondra took her last breath, Leondra started kicking around.”
There is so much sorrow: Keondra, a happy, beautiful girl, is gone. But with Leondra nearly smiling, kicking her legs, and grabbing at balloons that crowd the ceiling, there also is much cause for joy.
The balloons, like the many phone calls, have come from all over the country — many from strangers offering prayer, condolences, and well-wishes.
Visitors come and go all day. Mayor Michael Bell said Monday that once Leondra is more stable, he intends to visit, should the family be ready.
“When I first heard about it, I thought it was very sad that now we’re shooting kids,” Mayor Bell said. “This has got to stop.… These are kids we’re talking about. This is our future. We cannot ignore it.”
Between the sorrow and the happiness, there’s also confusion and anger.
Police say someone stood outside the family’s apartment and fired at least 12 rounds into a rear sliding-glass door, hitting the two girls.
Glass from the door cut their cousin, Na’Reese Hamilton, 1, who was sleeping on the couch, Ms. Reed said.
Three adults — including Ms. Reed, Tamatha Pride, and James Johnson — were also inside, though they were not injured.
Ms. Reed said that while blinds were drawn over the door, the slats’ angle made it possible for the shooter or shooters to see exactly what — and who — was targeted.
The shootings were “about self-gratification and brownie points,” said Pauline Featchurs, a relative who was at the hospital Monday.
Even still, Ms. Reed and Ms. Neal, said they don’t hate whoever is responsible. Not any more — that would mean the shooters could claim victory.
“I hated them so bad that it landed me in the hospital” because of stress, Ms. Neal, 27, said. “I realized I can’t go on hating them. I was giving them the power over me and over Keondra. I had to let it go.”
The family hopes that the community and police stay vigilant — that anyone who knows anything will call Crime Stoppers and justice will be served.
What the family doesn’t want is more violence.
“My greatest hope is that the person who did this develops a conscience,” Ms. Reed said. “I don’t want no revenge.”
After a vigil Saturday at Moody Manor, relatives said, a group of men from the neighborhood came to the Kent Street complex and punched the girls’ mother, Quentorria Snowden, 20, giving her a black eye.
The men implied they had guns and said, “We’re going to light this [place] up” and swore at Ms. Snowden and told her “[forget] your baby,” Ms. Neal said. “People were running away, grabbing their babies.”
Another vigil is planned for today at 5 p.m. at Moody Manor.
Toledo police were tight-lipped about the case Monday.
Sgt. Joe Heffernan, a department spokesman, referred all questions to Lt. Bill Moton, who did not return calls while Capt. Wes Bombrys repeatedly said the department had no comment.
Ms. Reed said, “From the bottom of my heart, I know the police ain’t layin’ down on this.”
The family said they will not go back to Moody Manor, and they are looking for a new place to live. Eventually they hope to leave Toledo for a quieter town where they can live peacefully and Keondra can continue to recover.
Relatives have set up a collection fund at the Toledo Urban Credit Union to help with moving expenses, Ms. Snowden said.
Contact Taylor Dungjen at: email@example.com, 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @tdungjen_Blade.