AKRON, Ohio — A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person or persons responsible for the shooting death of Na’kia Crawford, an 18-year-old Akron woman who had just graduated from high school.
“I and our entire community is mourning the loss of Na’kia Crawford,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said at a news conference Tuesday. “Her senseless killing has rightfully impacted each and every one of us in a very personal way. Na’kia was only 18-years-old, had just graduated from North High School and had her future all decided at Central State University. Now because of a tragic act of incomprehensible violence, the future she dreamed of was stolen from her, and she deserves justice.”
Crawford’s family is donating $20,000 in reward money to Summit County Crimestoppers, Horrigan announced. Dr. Cliff Deveny, President, and CEO of Summa Health, is donating an additional $25,000 to Crimestoppers in Na’kia’s name. Those donations will be added to the $5,000 reward originally offered by Summit County Crimestoppers.
“My heart goes out to Na’kia and your family,” Deveny said. “I have been a lifelong resident of Akron, and this is such a tragic event and something that has really torn at my heart. My hope is this doesn’t get swept under the rug, that people remember Na’kia’s life mattered. She had her whole life in front of her. There’s so much negative going on in the world, and I thought we wanted to bring attention to this in a way that we could get even the smallest amount of information to get her justice.”
Deputy Chief Jesse Leeser provided some additional information about the incident during the news conference Tuesday.
He said that on Sunday, June 14, shortly after 1 p.m., Crawford was running errands with her grandmother in her white 2017 Chevrolet Malibu.
Crawford and her grandmother were heading east on West North Street and stopped for a red light on Howard Street.
Witnesses said a black, newer-model car, possibly a Chevrolet Camaro or a similar vehicle stopped behind Crawford’s vehicle. It then pulled up alongside the driver’s side, and an unknown suspect or suspects fired multiple rounds into Crawford’s car.
The suspect vehicle then drove east on West North Street through the intersection and continued eastbound, Leeser said.
Witnesses also said the suspect vehicle had tinted windows and possibly a pink insignia or writing on the hood.
Crawford was shot multiple times and died later at the hospital, Leeser said. Her grandmother was not injured.
Akron police officers stopped multiple vehicles matching the suspect’s vehicle description and interviewed all those individuals, Leeser said. There were no traffic cameras in the area.
“We have devoted hundreds of man-hours to investigating this crime and will continue to do so,” Leeser said. “We are asking the public to please provide information about this murder. Somebody knows something.”
Watch the entire news conference below:
Her death has rocked the Akron community. Last week, she graduated from Akron North High school and was planning on studying computer technology at Central State University in the fall.
Crawford's uncle, Tyrell Fletcher, urged anyone with information on the homicide to come forward with information, including the killer.
"Just turn yourself in. We need justice for my niece. It's not right. It's not fair. She had a lot going for herself and someone took it away," Fletcher said.
Family members, friends, and even strangers came out Tuesday for a small protest at the intersection where Crawford was shot, holding signs and asking for justice as police continued to search for her killer or killers. Cars driving by honked to show their support.
Those who knew Na'Kia Crawford described her as beautiful, inside and out.
Andrius Clay said the young woman was his best friend.
"For you to be able to know her was a privilege," Clay said.
Na'Kia's younger sister, Nicolette Crawford, described her sister as kindhearted and soft-spoken. She was smart, a history buff, and focused on her education, Nicolette said. The two were best friends and often dressed alike unintentionally.
"That bond was automatically there and I’m going to miss her forever," Nicolette Crawford said. "Her presence is what I’m gonna miss the most."
Crawford said she was comforted to see people showing love and support, including strangers, letting her know that her sister was loved.
Pachelle Brown, a Cleveland resident, said she didn't know Na'Kia Crawford but grew up in Akron and learned of her death from social media. She came out to the protest, along with her young daughter.
"She should have been saying her last goodbye to her friends and her family as a happy farewell, 'I’m going to college,'" Brown said. "They should not be saying farewell to her because she’s gone and dead."
Noah Monroe, an Akron resident, asked of the killer or killers, "What did he accomplish by doing that? Nothing, other than tore a family apart and tore a community apart."
Many in this community hope whoever did this will be held responsible.
"I want the police to catch whoever did this, I really do," Nicolette Crawford said. "And I want whoever did this off the street so they can’t do it to nobody else."
If you have any information about the murder of Na'Kia Crawford, you're encouraged to call the Akron Police Department Detective Bureau at (330) 375-2490 or (330) 375-2Tip, or The Summit County Crimestoppers, Inc. at (330) 434-COPS (2677). You can also text TIPSCO with your tips to 274637 (CRIMES).