TOLEDO, Ohio — On Saturday morning, the shooting death of Neiko McIntyre became the sixth homicide in the city of Toledo this week, which became one of the most violent weeks in recent memory.
Activist Anton Parks, Sr. says its heartbreaking to see violence being used as a way to solve differences.
"It's really heartbreaking to understand that people are still thinking that they have to commit crimes and hurt each other to deal with their problems," said Parks.
The first 15 weeks of the year were relatively peaceful compared to last year, with only 8 homicides. However, in the last week, Toledo saw a major jump, 6 homicides in one week through Saturday, with two of the victims being children. Sixteen-year-old Neiko McIntyre and 7-month-old Desire Hughes join Damia Ezell as Toledo's three minor victims of gun violence this year.
Unfortunately, last year saw similar violence against children, with 10 minors in Toledo becoming victims of homicide. This follows the overall trend of increased homicide in Toledo. From 2009 to 2019, annual homicides numbered anywhere from 20-40. Beginning with the pandemic in 2020, homicides jumped to a record 61, followed by an even deadlier 70 homicides in 2021.
Carla Baucom founded the initiative "Operation: It Takes a Village" to help children who are victims of violence. Baucom pointed out the irony that helping more people indicates things are more violent.
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"Unfortunately the numbers are adding up, the amount of children and families that we're trying to assist," said Baucom.
Parks says while some in the community may not want to speak up, it's one of the best ways to help find justice.
"The best thing to do is to reach out to the elders. A lot of people don't like the police, but the police have some of the best resources in our county," said Parks.
At the current frequency of homicides, the city is looking at a better year than the previous two. But if the last two years are any indication, the city could see a significant rise during the warmer months. That could put 2022 on track with past record years.
Neiko, Desire, and Damia's cases remain unsolved. If you have any information related to these crimes, and you want to remain anonymous, you can call or text Crime Stoppers at 419-255-1111.