Breaking News
More () »

Toledo's deadliest year continues, with families looking for answers and city officials looking for solutions

Visiting the 700 block of Woodland Avenue, it's clear that the area where a 14-year-old boy was killed is no stranger to the violence that Toledo is struggling with.

TOLEDO, Ohio — 14-year-old Jaylen Pryor is the latest victim of homicide in the city of Toledo, during what has been the deadliest year on record.

Jaylen, who was an eighth-grader at Robinson Elementary, was shot and killed Monday night in central Toledo.

Toledo police tell us that around midnight, he was sitting in a parked car with another teen on Woodland Avenue near Ewing Street. That's when a black SUV pulled up alongside their car and shot Jaylen at least once before taking off.

First responders arrived at the scene shortly after. Jaylen was taken to the hospital where he later died.

The other teen in the car was unharmed.

RELATED: 14-year-old boy killed in central Toledo shooting

Jaylen's family and friends were at the scene of the shooting, trying to find answers.

Currently, there are no arrests made and no suspects in the investigation.

Visiting the 700 block of Woodland Avenue, it's clear that the area is no stranger to the violence that Toledo is struggling with.

In addition to Jaylen's death Monday night, there's an old memorial for another child who had been shot and killed, and the testimony of one of the neighborhood's residents, Vernon Kelley, who had lost his own adult son to gun violence in 2017. 

He says he knows the suffering Jaylen's family is surely facing.

'It's something I would want no other parent to go through. It's a saddening thing. It's a hard-feeling thing. It hurts. You never forget about the situation," Kelley explained.

Kelley says more than anyone else, he understands the heartbreak, remembering how he felt when his own son was taken away from him.

"It keeps coming up and up and up. Even if you try to forget, all you can do is go about your life and make sure it's something that doesn't hinder you from moving forward," said Kelley.

A representative with the Toledo Police Department says work continues on a plan to control the violence.

"We're having a lot of violent crime right now. The nation is having a lot of violent crime right now," said Andrew Dlugosielski, the assistant Public Information Officer for Toledo Police Department. "So we're sitting down with our gang units and a lot of our specialized units to see how we can tackle this head-on."

However, TPD has nothing concrete yet on how they plan to take action.

"Nothing yet. I mean we're always open to suggestions, this is always an evolving thing. So we're always looking for new ideas," Dlugosielski explained.

Back on Woodland Avenue, Kelley says that his son would be 31 this year if he was still alive. Kelley says the only true way to put a stop to the violence is to change the hearts and minds of the people pulling the trigger.

"We gotta walk these streets, we gotta get with our kids and talk to them and let them know there's a better way than what they're doing, and killing each other is not it," said Kelly. "We've had enough of that done to us as a people before all of this. Why we need to kill each other? It doesn't make sense to me."


There's anger and there's frustration about the violence on Toledo's streets.

And Toledo's police chief says that anger and frustration is what it's going to take to turn things around.

Anger and frustration directed at the fact that families, friends and loved ones are dying, because one of the biggest barriers Kral says police are facing to reduce the violence is people willing to turn in others who are doing the killing.

If Toledoans paused for one second each to remember this year's homicide victims, we'd be sitting in silence for over a minute.

Toledo Police Chief George Kral says silence, in this case, is deadly.

"We're not having victims tell us what they know, we're not having community members telling us who's doing the shooting, and it makes it incredibly difficult," Kral said.

Toledo's latest homicide victim, Jaylen Pryor, will never get to experience high school; shot and killed at 14 years old. 

These are the cases Kral says people need to step up and speak out about, without fear of retaliation.

"When we get a 911 phone call and the person says I wish to remain anonymous, right on the CAD screen, it says anonymous, so even if the officers wanted to tell someone who called, we can't," Kral said.

All victims stick with the chief, but he says it's the young ones he would like to see have a chance to turn their lives around.

"I'm not being naïve when I say I bet the lion's share of these young people out there doing the shooting, they don't want to be in this position," Kral said.

But for that to happen, Kral says the community's silence needs to be broken.

"There has to become a time where we get angry. And I don't care, my cousin just got shot. God forbid, my husband, wife, sister brother just got shot; I'm going to take that chance because that person is a danger to the community," Kral said.

In an effort to hold our elected officials accountable, WTOL 11 reached out to Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz for comment first. Kapszukiewicz declined and advised us to speak with Kral.

If you have any information on an unsolved homicide in Toledo, you're asked to call Crime Stoppers at 419-255-1111.


RELATED: SHOTS FIRED behind the scenes: Why we did the series on Toledo gun violence