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3 teens killed in Toledo in 2023: Forum addresses gun violence against youths

Three of the five homicides in Toledo in 2023 have been teenagers: Donald Hogan, 15; Anthony Krug-Overton, 16; and DeAsia Green, 15.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Recent gun violence against Toledo youths was on the minds of many people who attended a community forum inside the Main Library in downtown Toledo on Thursday night.

Nearly 50 people showed up for the event, which was sponsored by Students Demand Action. Panelists included Sylvania Southview senior Ava Kulka, Toledo Chief Prosecutor Rebecca Facey, and Toledo violence interrupter Isaac Miles.

The moderator of the event was James Starks, a standout football player and later a defensive backs coach at St. Francis de Sales High School, told the story of receiving a text last year, notifying him that one of his players, 17-year-old Marvelous Walton, had been shot to death in July 2022. It was a devastating personal blow to Starks and the team to lose someone so young to gun violence, Starks said.

About 10 local members of SDA, a national gun violence prevention group, invited politicians and Toledo residents to listen and push for action to prevent further tragedies.

Three of the five homicides in Toledo in 2023 have been teenagers: Donald Hogan, 15; Anthony Krug-Overton, 16; and DeAsia Green, 15.

Kulka said that even though she lives in Sylvania, which she described as a safe community, she has witnessed several threats inside her school. She believes gun violence among young people occurs because of fear -- a student is afraid for their safety, gets a gun and then that gun ends up being used.

She said Thursday's forum was an opportunity to let people know that young adults care about the issue and are willing to take action.

"First and foremost, we are worried about violence in our school," Kulka said. "That resonates with people in our group. Every student has this fear in an environment that is supposed to be safe -- our schools. But I also think we want to raise awareness about gun violence in general."

Their concerns require action, Miles said. Not soon, not in the near future; now.

"It's an issue that has to be addressed right away," Miles said. "It's not something we can sit around and wait for results."

When asked for a solution, former Toledo mayor and current member of the Ohio Senate Paula Hicks-Hudson, said it's time for the people in power to stop pointing fingers, talk to each other and fix what's not working.

"This atmosphere of chaos and that we need to do something about it," Hick-Hudson said. "Those of us who do have the ability to make a difference, we need to take on and help them and support them in ways in which they can feel safe."

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