Local leaders urge quick change in the community or youth violence will continue in Toledo

Local leaders urge quick change in the community or youth violence will continue in Toledo

City councilwoman Vanice Williams says adults need to step up and lead our children away from guns and violence in the streets.

TOLEDO, Ohio — More deadly shootings have hit Toledo this week. 

Two happened in just 24 hours with one victim being a 15-year-old boy and the other, a 74-year-old man, who police say was gunned down by another 15 year old.

Local leaders are now calling for a fundamental change in the community to stop this violence. Toledo city councilwoman Vanice Williams says she feels like history is repeating itself.

“I remember when I was a kid and this was going on when I was a teenager,” she said.

She said she’s angry at the latest gun violence involving 15 year olds. Both were very different circumstances. 

Police say someone shot 15 year-old Tavion Brown to death behind a building on East Central Avenue Wednesday afternoon. 

RELATED: Boy, 15, dies from gunshot wounds Wednesday afternoon

Another 15 year-old boy is behind bars, charged with murdering a 74-year-old man at a central Toledo gas station Wednesday night. 

RELATED: 15-year-old in custody after 74-year-old man shot and killed inside his vehicle at gas station

Williams says she blames adults more than the young people involved.

“As adults, we are supposed to be leading our youth in the right way,” she said, “we are supposed to be putting them as the front and we’re continually putting them at the back.”

Community activist Malik Smith organized several Stop the Violence rallies last summer when he started seeing the young victims. He said it was a wake up call for him to be a mentor to kids on the street being a parent himself.

“Now it’s the kids picking up the guns,” Smith said, “a lot of these kids are just kids and they just get caught up in these streets. I got caught up in the streets growing up.”

But he says everyone needs to start looking at their neighbors as family.

“It’s got to start in the community,” he said. “It’s got to start with us being parents. it’s got to start at home.”

Both Williams and Smith agree that kids need more positive things to do to keep them away from the streets.

“We don’t have anything for our kids to do that’s impactful. That’s it,” Williams said. “We have to make a change.”

In 2020 there were 62 homicides. 25 of those were victims 25 years old or younger. 15 victims were just teenagers. 

Smith and Williams say if nothing’s done, we’re bound to see those numbers again. 

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