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

TOLEDO, Ohio – The recent gun violence against Toledo youth was on the minds of many who attended the community forum at the main library in downtown Toledo on Thursday evening.

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 event was moderated by James Starks, a standout football player and later the defensive backs coach at St. Francis de Sales High School, who told the story of receiving a text message last year telling him that one of his players, 17-year-old Awesome Walton , was shot in July 2022. Starks said losing someone so young to gun violence is a terrible personal blow to Starks and his team.

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

The latest incident involving the shooting of 15-year-old Donald Hogan at his home in south Toledo on Feb. 3.

Several students were on hand to listen to the conversation, including about 10 members of the local chapter of Students Demand Action, a collection of “young activists committed to ending gun violence in our communities.”

Kulka said that even though she lives in Sylvania, which she described as a safe community, she has witnessed several threats at her school. She believes that gun violence among young people is driven by fear – a student fears for his safety, pulls out a weapon, and then uses that weapon.

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

“First of all, we are concerned about violence in our school,” Kulko said. “It resonates with people in our group. Every student has that fear in an environment that’s supposed to be safe — in our schools. But I also think we want to raise awareness about gun violence in general.”

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