The city of Toledo is approaching 40 homicides as a violent year comes to a close, a total not seen in two decades when the city's population was tens of thousands of residents larger than it is today.
Toledo has amassed 38 killings with more than three weeks to go in 2017. If two more homicides occur before the new year, 2017 would be the first time since 1994 annual homicides here reached 40, Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics show.
Cethus Manning I at his home on December 6, 2017. Manning's son Cethus Manning II, 19, was shot and killed Feb. 21 in the 100 block of Everett Street. His murder remains unsolved. A picture of Manning, his son Cethus Manning II, and his wife Glinda Ellis-Manning are in a picture from 2016.
Police are greatly concerned with the homicide totals and are looking at ways to improve upon them, spokesman Sgt. Kevan Toney said.
“When homicides occur, the detectives are working night and day initially to solve the crime, and interview witnesses, and determine what happened early on to get ahead of it,” Sergeant Toney said.
FBI records are available dating to 1985. Since then, Toledo reported 40 homicides four times — in 1989, 1992, 1993, and 1994 — with a peak of 45 in 1993.
Toledo's estimated population was about 331,400, in 1993, meaning 13.6 homicides occurred per 100,000 residents. Today Toledo’s population is about 278,500. The per capita homicide rate is on track to be similar this year.
Every killing leaves an impact on victims' friends and family. Among them is Cethus Manning, Sr. He called his slain son, Cethus Manning II, a gift from heaven.
An unidentified gunman shot the younger Mr. Manning II, 19, during the early morning of Feb. 21 in the 100 block of Everett Street. The younger Mr. Manning was returning from work.
“To hear what happened that morning, it put a hole in my heart that's still there. It hasn't healed one bit,” said Mr. Manning, 64.
Killings appear so frequently in the news that, for many, the reports seem less shocking. Mr. Manning used to be one of those people, but he said after losing a loved one the pain becomes so very real.
Mr. Manning, who has lived in Toledo since he was young, said he believes the city is becoming more violent. Crime and poverty are tearing apart the central city, he said, adding he believes the problem could soon spread beyond Toledo’s limits.
“As a community, we can't take a blind eye to this,” Mr. Manning said.
Whether Toledo surpasses 40 homicides remains to be seen. Although December typically has fewer killings than summer months, it's historically recorded several during its final weeks.
Between 2012 and 2016, Toledo has averaged 3.6 homicides from Dec. 6 to Dec. 31, Blade records show.
This year's city homicide total includes a few outliers. One man died in an assault at Toledo Correctional Institution, outside city police jurisdiction and the Toledo Police Department's homicide count.
Another victim was stabbed in late 2016 and died in January, 2017. A man infected his late girlfriend with HIV prior to this year, and she died in 2017.
Those latter two cases, having occurred in 2017, count for this year's FBI statistics.
The bureau's Uniform Crime Reporting database of “murder and non negligent manslaughter” does not count justifiable homicides. Toledo police do in their homicide total.
Sergeant Toney said crime in Toledo is down in other categories. He cited Operation STOP — an effort to reduce violent crime in particularly hard-hit neighborhoods — and additional detectives assigned to the gang unit as part of ongoing efforts to reduce homicides.
The spokesman reiterated Chief George Kral's past statements that crimes related to gangs and drugs contribute to a lot of the city's shootings and homicides. Retaliations occur between gang members, he said.
In the city's last homicide, a gunman shot and killed Tyrone Armstrong, 18, about 10 a.m. Tuesday in the 1500 block of Vance Street. An autopsy found he suffered two gunshot wounds to the back.
A second victim, Chantel Flee, 25, was also shot. She is expected to survive, police said.
Mr. Armstrong was last enrolled at Glass City Academy.
Toledo police investigators have solved 23 of this year's homicides. Officials urge those with leads call the Crime Stopper program at 419-255-1111. Callers may remain anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward.
Staff writer Allison Reamer contributed to this report.
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