City, community leaders working to prevent gun violence

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    Three homicides have occurred in the city in the past week.

    The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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  • On Thursday night, Toledo native Donald Ward flew back to his hometown for his mother’s funeral.

    His mother, Monica Myers, was fatally shot at about 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 1. She and other family members were traveling in a vehicle near Detroit Avenue and Alexis Road when someone in another vehicle, described in court records as a white GMC Envoy, followed them for several miles before firing several shots into their vehicle, according to Toledo police.

    Ms. Myers was the only one struck. She was transported to Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center where she later died.

    “I love Ohio,” Mr. Ward said. “I didn’t want to have to come back under these circumstances.”

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    Ms. Myers’s death was one of three homicides that occurred in the city in the past week. Since her death on Sept. 1, 18-year-old Tyler Evans was shot to death on Tuesday in the Old West End, and 75-year-old Gordon Capshaw was shot on Wednesday in South Toledo. Mr. Capshaw died Thursday at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center.

    Mr. Capshaw’s death brought this year’s homicide total to 32 within the city, according to Blade records. Another homicide occurred in Perrysburg Township, when police shot and killed Trent Harper after he led police on a high-speed chase then pointed a gun at officer and bystanders.

    At eight months in, homicides in city limits in 2018 are on par with previous recent years, said Toledo Deputy police Chief Mike Troendle.

    The last time the city saw 40 homicides in a single year was 1994, according to FBI data. Last year, 39 homicides occurred in the city, and in 2016, 36 occurred. 

    Out of the 32 homicides recorded so far for 2018, Deputy Chief Troendle said 17 have been solved. Last year, the department’s clearance rate was 62 percent, and in 2016, it was 84 percent.

    “It’s a little less than we were last year,” he said.

    But he also pointed out that there are still several open investigations.

    A man who Toledo police believe was the driver in the drive-by shooting that left Ms. Myers dead was arrested Thursday. Paris Williamson, age 27 of Toledo, was charged with complicity to aid and abet another in the commission of a murder and two counts of complicity to aid and abet another in committing felonious assault, according to Toledo Municipal Court records.

    The man accused of shooting Mr. Capshaw, Christopher Krauzer, 49, of Toledo, was arraigned Thursday in Toledo Municipal Court on a felonious assault charge, but police said Friday the charged had been upgraded to murder following Mr. Capshaw’s death.

    No arrests have been made in Mr. Evans’ death.

    Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said Toledo, like every big city in the country, is wrestling with how to combat gun violence.

    “We can never get to the point where we accept this as normal,” he said. “What’s happening is not acceptable, but I do think that we can turn the corner together as a community.”

    Many factors contribute to violent crime: poverty, drug addiction, a lack of education, and a lack of community resources, the mayor said. So the city’s efforts to curb the violence need to be multi-faceted and hit at the roots of the problem, he said.

    “It’s where there’s no hope that we see this kind of violence. When people feel that there is no hope, they’re more inclined to engage in this type of violence,” he said. “So the solution is to try to provide the hope that they lack, and that’s a big problem that’s not going to get solved overnight.”

    The Rev. Donald Perryman, with the Center of Hope Baptist Church — located on Dorr Street not far from North Detroit Avenue —  said any programs designed to prevent crime have to start young. Elementary school, he said. Pre-kindergarten.

    And these programs need to be run by people who have shared experiences with the children living in poverty or growing up in this violence, he said. That way, authentic relationships can be built.

    “We’re trying to solve something at the back end instead of the front end,” he said.

    Mr. Ward said he believes that some crime is a choice, but in other cases, the person involved just feels trapped. People with felony records need more education and job opportunities to keep them from resorting to desperate measures. Crime doesn’t have to be their only option, he said.

    In his opinion, Toledo, he said, has been getting worse.

    “The violence keeps going up,” he said.

    Staff writer Sarah Elms contributed to this story.

    Contact Kate Snyder at, 419-724-6282 or on Twitter @KL_Snyder