AKRON, Ohio (WEWS) — Authorities have made three arrests in connection with the death of Ethan Liming, a 17-year-old at Firestone Community Learning Center who was beaten to death near the I PROMISE School in Akron.
The arrests come after the Akron Police Department shared more details with the media about what happened the night Liming died near basketball courts on West Market Street.
Authorities said the suspects, Deshawn Stafford, 20; Tyler Stafford, 19 and Donovan Jones, 21, were all arrested on murder and felonious assault charges. Additionally, Jones is facing a disrupting public service charge. Akron police identified the three suspects, obtained warrants and they were arrested Saturday morning by Akron police officers and members of the U.S. Marshals Service.
“The U.S. Marshals Service will continue to provide all necessary resources to help our partners at the Akron Police Department to combat violent crime. This crime impacted an entire community and we stand alongside the community in seeking justice for Ethan,” said U.S. Marshal Pete Elliot.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan issued the following statement regarding the arrests:
“Ethan’s senseless and tragic death has touched every person in our community. These arrests would not have been possible without the dedication of our Akron Police Department and their collaboration with the U.S. Marshals Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force. They have worked around the clock on this case and I thank them for their tireless efforts. My thoughts and prayers remain with the entire Liming family at this time.”
Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett acknowledged the community’s “outpouring of support” for Liming’s family and the case.
“I am happy to report that today, officers with the Akron Police Department, made several arrests in connection with the death of Ethan Liming. We thank the members of the community for their outpouring of support that helped investigators throughout this investigation. We will continue to follow any leads that will result in bringing those responsible for Ethan’s death to justice. While I believe the news of the arrests will be welcomed by Ethan’s family and loved ones, we all recognize that nothing will bring Ethan back. Violence in this country must stop. We are losing too many lives to senseless acts of violence,” he said.
According to Mylett, on the night of June 2, Liming arrived at the parking lot with several other individuals in a car.
“Shortly after their arrival, they got out of the vehicle, and at least two members of occupants of the vehicle started discharging what we know now to be a SPLATRBALL Water Bead Blaster gel gun. They started discharging it at the direction of four individuals who were playing basketball on the basketball court. The four individuals on the basketball court started running away, and it appears that two of the occupants of the vehicle started running in their direction. Moments later, two occupants of the vehicle are seeing trotting back to their vehicle. The four people who had been on the basketball court are also seen running in the direction of the vehicle in the parking lot. A confrontation occurs. Ethan Liming is assaulted, and a fight ensues. At the conclusion of it, Ethan Liming is dead,” Mylett said.
According to police, Liming’s injuries “would suggest that there was a prolonged, intentional intent to assault him.”
Police do not believe race was a factor in the attack.
When police arrived within minutes of receiving a call about a fight at the basketball court, Liming was found unresponsive with severe injuries and was pronounced dead.
News 5 spoke to Liming’s parents, Bill and Jennifer, about their son who they described as a good person who loved to help others and that he didn’t deserve to be beaten to death.
“We miss our child. We would do anything we could possibly do to turn the clock back and have him in my arms again. And to see his face again, but they robbed me of even that ability. And they destroyed my child’s face and his head. And people think that he deserved—people keep saying, ‘Oh, you do these things and you deserve you get what you deserve.’ I don’t think anybody’s child would ever deserve what happened to him. Nobody’s child would deserve what they did to my child,” Bill Liming said.
On Sunday, Liming’s parents told News 5 they did not want to comment on the arrests, instead focusing their energy on the future of their son’s memory.
“He had a dream of being a lawyer and so we’re setting up a scholarship through Akron Public Schools and will go to an Akron senior from Firestone who has collegiate dreams to help them with their goals,” Bill Liming said.
To donate to the scholarship, you’re asked to submit any donation to the Ethan Liming Memorial Scholarship c/o Akron Public Schools, 10 N Main St, Akron, OH 44308, 330-761-2851.
“I’m just here watching my grandson play baseball and I was so moved by the memorial for the young gentleman that was brutally beaten,” said Kim Eckert who drove to Akron from Dover for a game.
Jack White, a volunteer groundskeeper at the field, reattached a paper lantern that had blown away from the fence.
“Ethan was a very polite young man. I only knew him to say hello and he’d always call me Mr. White,” he said. “It’s just a real loss for everybody here – the school, the families.”
Investigators told WEWS-TV they hope the arrests will lead to answers for Ethan’s family, friends and the community.
“It was a priority of the mayor, the Akron Police Chief, my department,” said U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott. “No family should have to go through that. Hopefully, today will give the family of Ethan Liming a little closure.”
This story was originally published June 11 by WEWS in Cleveland, an E.W. Scripps Company.