AKRON, Ohio — There is a gun violence problem plaguing the city of Akron, and teenagers and children are paying the ultimate price for it.
These are the people who have been killed by violence in Akron in just four months - all but one the victim of a shooting:
- Ty'leia Junius, 14, was killed in a triple shooting.
- Na'kia Crawford, 18, had just graduated from high school when she was shot in an intersection.
- Twenty-two-month-old Azeria Tucker and her father died when police say someone intentionally ran them over.
- 20-month old Tyree Halsell was shot and killed early last month.
- Eight-year-old Mikayla Pickett was at a birthday party when someone shot her.
- And then, Mar’viyah Jones, who died two weeks after she was caught in the crossfire.
Mar’viyah Jones, the 6-year-old girl who was shot on September 10, fought for her life for nearly two weeks, but has died from a senseless shooting.
Mar’viyah is the sixth young person killed in that city in just months.
The two men already under arrest in Mar’viyah's shooting are now facing new charges.
Both of the alleged shooters have had a murder charge added to their long rap sheets for this incident. The mayor of Akron and the police department are vowing to stop violence against children.
Mar’viyah was shot while sitting in a car with five of her siblings and her mom when the driver of the car she was in and a man in another car started shooting at each other.
She has been in the hospital ever since, fighting for her life. She died on Tuesday.
Both of the suspects were arrested after the shooting, Marqualle Clinkscales and Corey Jemison, are now facing murder charges.
“We’re working diligently every day to take guns off the streets, to identity people who are known to potentially commit a violent crime, it’s a data driven approach that we’re able to go to come areas that have been adversely impacted by gun violence," said Lt. Michael Miller with the Akron Police Department.
The vow to be tough on crime is happening at the state level too. Gov. Mike DeWine is pushing to pass a bill which would make penalties for convicted felons tougher.
One young life like Mar’viyah lost is one too many, but she is one of a half dozen of other young people killed in Akron in just the last four months.
The mother of one of those children opened up to News 5 about her lasting grief, and questions she may never have answered.
Too many Akron mothers are feeling the same agony Shoskamika Risper is experiencing.
One month ago, her 8-year-old daughter, Mikayla Pickett, was shot and killed at a birthday party one street over from the girl's home.
Police have not figured out who pulled the trigger.
"She was a wonderful kid. She's missing out on life. She didn't deserve to die. I mean, whose kid deserves to die,” Risper said. "My life is totally different without her. I'm heartbroken. It's just hard."
Her emotional wounds were reopened when she learned of Mar’viyah’s death.
"It's just horrifying that kids out here losing their lives because people want to be doing stuff to each other,” Risper said.
A community outraged
The homicides have outraged the Akron community. All of those tragedies happened in the last four months. Friends and family of the slain children and teens are calling for the violence to stop.
"Just put the guns down. Put the guns down and stop the violence," Mikayla’s brother Joesiah Risper said. "Very frustrating. It's very frustrating to me."
And it's frustrating to Dr. Roderick Pounds Sr. He's the pastor at Second Baptist Church in Akron.
"The sanctity of life is gone and it's very, very scary,” Pounds said. "It hurts. It just hurts and it moves me to tears."
Pounds said he believes more pastors are needed to get away from the pulpits, out of the churches and speak out against violence.
“And getting them on the street, particularly our black pastors, because they are the most significant of group of people in our black community,” he said.
Risper says something needs to be done to stop another mother from losing their child.
"People are losing their lives behind this and it's hard for people to get on with their lives without their child,” she said.
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