Four slayings in the past nine days in Springfield have the community and city leaders calling for an end to the violence.
Two men were found fatally shot in an SUV on Wednesday night. That brings the number of people killed in Springfield so far this year to 11, compared with eight in all of 2014.
On Thursday, Troy Allen Holder II, 26, was arrested and charged with two counts of murder in connection with the double homicide after a standoff at the Super 8 hotel in Springfield.
“We’re working very hard to deal with this,” Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said.
Bryant Michael Lawson, 33, and Titus Lee Ford, 36, both of Springfield, were killed Wednesday night, according to a Springfield Police Division report.
Officers responded to the 1400 block of Pumphouse Road on a report of several shots fired, the report said. When they arrived, they found a black 2002 Cadillac Escalade with its front end crashed into a garage.
Lawson was the driver and was shot in the head, according to the police report, and Ford was found dead in the back seat with a gunshot wound to the face.
“My brother was a good person,” Lawson’s sister Christy Williams said. “No matter what he did, he didn’t deserve to die.”
Springfield police officers arrived at the Super 8 hotel on Leffel Lane about noon Thursday to talk to a person of interest in the case. Several cruisers could be seen at the hotel and the Special Operations Team responded.
Family and friends of Lawson and Ford gathered at the hotel while police were there.
More officers were called when the growing crowd rushed the entrance of the hotel, banging on the door and trying to get into the building. The additional officers pushed the crowd back.
A bystander pumping gas across the street noticed cursing and screaming in the lot of the hotel and tried to settle the families down.
“I understand their frustration, but we’ve had enough violence in this community already,” Springfield resident Aysheda Campbell said.
The frustrations of the victims’ families is understood, Springfield Police Chief Stephen Moody said.
“They want justice for their families,” he said. “We have to be patient, let people vent. That said, we’re not going to let someone commit violence against another person.”
Police negotiated with the person of interest and were able to take him into custody without incident, Moody said.
“This case is still very fluid,” he said, adding that officers were still executing search warrants and collecting forensic evidence as of Thursday evening.
Last week, 26-year-old Candance Prunty was killed by a gunman in her West Mulberry Street home. A day later, 19-year-old Shaquan Newby was shot dead in front of a house on South Yellow Springs Street.
While there’s been an uptick of slayings in the city, Copeland said the overall crime rate has gone down over the past decade and these killings are isolated crimes.
“What’s happening here is not random. The people who are getting hurt are getting hurt by people who know them,” he said.
Community members want the violence to end.
“It’s crazy. It’s sad the way things are going on these days,” Campbell said.
And for those who have been directly affected, it’s hard to bear.
“The violence needs to stop because of petty stuff,” Williams said.
Lavonda Crawford, Bryant Lawson’s aunt, begged for the perpetrators to put down their guns.
“Please. We, the parents, can’t take it no more,” she said. “We’re tired of burying our children.”
Jeff Wheldon lives down the road from where Lawson and Ford were shot and killed Wednesday night. He’s sick of the violence.
“It’s senseless, senseless,” he said. “Utterly senseless.”