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Former high school football star shot and killed in Akron

Gage Zirke's devastated parents search for justice
Greg Zurke
Posted at 4:54 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 19:23:09-04

AKRON, Ohio — The parents of a former high school football star are seeking answers after their son was shot and killed inside of his car Sunday evening.

Gage Zirke, 20, was found shot to death in the driver’s seat of his vehicle after crashing into a tree in the 2300 block of 11th Street in Akron's Kenmore neighborhood.

Zirke was pronounced dead at the scene around 7 p.m. The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the torso. Police said preliminary information indicates that an unknown person fired multiple shots at Zirke's car as he traveled down the street.

Tim Zirke and Lucrecia Tolbert-Rogers are hoping police can identify the shooter and bring their son justice.

Gage Zirke

"We're hurting and this hurt can't be filled, even with knowing what happened, but it will help," Lucrecia said.

Tim and Lucrecia described Zirke as a loving, silly and a ball of energy.

"This has been the most difficult thing I've come across in my life. I miss him so much, every day," Tim said.

Zirke played wide receiver at Dutch Fork High School in South Carolina and impressed with his speed on the field. He was a star on Dutch Fork's 2018 championship team.

"Other coaches would tweet something about him after a game like, 'Wow, he's fast,'" Lucrecia said.

Gage Zirke

Zirke moved back from South Carolina to Akron a few years ago.

Zirke's death is just one of the numerous cases of gun violence sweeping the city of Akron.

There have been 34 murders in the city in 2021. Most of them were the result of gunfire. There were 27 murders in Akron at the same time last year.

Through June of 2021, 604 guns have been taken off the streets compared to 375 from the same time period in 2020.

Akron police recently hire 12 new officers as part of an effort to combat the the violence and the department is attempting to hire 50 more.

But gun violence numbers are still trending in the wrong direction as homicides committed against and by young people become a growing concern, according to Timothy Canon with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"Gun violence in Akron, as well as in the most other major metropolitan areas throughout the country, the levels are higher than they have been," Canon said.

Canon said that a group of ATF agents is working with Akron police to find ways to reduce crime, target violent offenders and trace where the guns are coming from.

Zirke's death came just before the death of another high school football star, 18-year-old Kyree Young, who was shot and killed in Akron Monday evening.

RELATED: 18-year-old football prospect Kyree Young killed in Akron shooting

While police continue to investigate both shooting deaths, Zirke's family are calling for justice and asking anyone with information about the incident to come forward.

"The world is gonna miss on a great man-- who he could have been," Tim said.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Akron Police Department Detective Bureau at 330-375-2490 or 330-375-2Tip.

RELATED: 20-year-old male found shot to death inside crashed car in Akron, medical examiner says