Adarus Black was named as the suspect accused of shooting to death Na’Kia Crawford, an Akron, Ohio, teen who was murdered at an intersection, police said in a press release on June 18, four days after Crawford was killed. Black, 17, is being sought by Akron Police. Two others, Jaion Bivins and Janisha George, are also facing charges connected to the shooting.
Akron Police said investigators do not believe Crawford knew the suspects and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when she was shot. Investigators said at a press conference that Crawford is believed to have been shot in a case of mistaken identity. Police said social media rumors that Crawford was targeted because she is black appear to be untrue.
Black, of Lakemore, is facing a murder charge. Bivins, 18, of Akron, was charged with obstructing justice and tampering with evidence. He plans on turning himself in, police said. George, 24, of Tallmadge, was charged with obstructing justice. She and Black have not been in contact with police and authorities urged them to turn themselves in.
Phil Trexler, a reporter with WKYC, tweeted, “Accused shooter of #NakiaCrawford is 17 with a long juvenile criminal history. Akron cops meticulously followed a path of surveillance cameras to eventually ID car, driver. Female is accused of trying to help hide the car.” According to Trexler, Bivins was driving the car. Police said Bivins told investigators he does not know why Black opened fire on Crawford. Police have not confirmed a motive for the shooting, but do not believe it was a hate crime. Witnesses and Akron’s mayor initially said the shooter was white.
Crawford had a bright future and positive personality, and her senseless death has left family, friends and the community reeling. Only a couple weeks ago, she was celebrating a big accomplishment: High school graduation. She had big plans for college, and she was only 18.
All of those dreams ended when, Akron police and school officials say, the suspect pulled alongside the car in Crawford and her grandmother rode, and opened fire. Crawford’s grandmother survived the attack but Crawford, tragically, did not.
“Black lives matter,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said to News 5 Cleveland. “Na’Kia Crawford’s life mattered.”
Crawford recently posted a series of high school graduation photos in cap-and-gown and thanked God for “blessing me to be able to walk the stage.” On her birthday last year, she posted on Facebook that she was “blessed to see 18.”
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Crawford’s family, tweeted, “Akron PD reports they identified #NakiaCrawford’s murderer (still at large) w/ 2 other suspects in custody. All to be charged in connection w/ her murder. Grateful we’re getting closer to #JusticeForNakia and hope her murderer turns himself in with no more loss of life.”
Horrigan issued a statement saying, “While nothing will ever bring Na’kia back, we hope that these pending arrests will bring some sense of justice to this grieving family. I thank the detectives and leadership of the Akron Police Department for their skilled investigative work and I strongly encourage the remaining suspects to contact the Akron Police Department to peacefully turn themselves in today.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Suspect Fired Into Crawford’s Car at an Intersection in Broad Daylight on a Sunday
The shooting was horrific; it occurred, officials say, in broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon at a local intersection. The car pulled alongside and shots were fired into Crawford’s car. The motive remains unclear. Crawford was out running errands with her grandmother when she was shot and killed, police said. Her grandmother was in the passenger seat of the car, but she was not injured, according to police.
According to Akron Public Schools in a June 15, 2020 statement:
Eighteen year old Na’Kia Crawford just graduated from North High School in Akron. Police today are looking for a suspect in her murder yesterday at 1:25 p.m. just north of downtown Akron on North Howard Street. Police reports indicate a car pulled up next to Na’Kia’s, and someone opened fire into her car. Her grandmother was in the car and was not injured. Na’Kia passed away at a local hospital.
Police were investigating whether the shooter was a white male, according to News 5 Cleveland. On social media, relatives described Crawford’s killer as a white male. But police have since said all three suspects are black
Police said in a statement that they found Crawford shot to death in her car at East North and North Howard Streets.
On Thursday, June 18, Akron Police said in a statement:
A comprehensive investigation was immediately initiated and has been ongoing around the clock since that time. The investigation involved members of the Akron Police Department, as well as federal law enforcement partners. Additionally, we have received information from our community that has been beneficial in creating a timeline of events.
Wednesday evening, the investigation led to the discovery that the Black Chevy Camaro we broadcast had been abandoned in Cleveland. The vehicle was located and transported to the Akron Police Department for processing.
The investigation accelerated from that point, leading to warrants being signed on three individuals. The investigation is continuing and additional charges are possible.
Akron Police added:
Anyone with information on Black, Bivins, or George is encouraged to call Akron Police Department Detective Bureau at 330-375-2490; or 330-375-2Tip, or the Summit County Crimestoppers Inc. at 330-434-COPS. You can also text TIPSCO with your tips to 274637 (Crimes). Callers can remain anonymous. Any Facebook tips that contain personal information, including names, email addresses, telephone numbers, or mailing addresses should not be posted as a comment here; please send via inbox. If you see the suspects, do not approach; call 911.
2. Police Were Seeking a Suspect Vehicle Described as a Dark Sports Car With Tinted Windows
Police released images of a vehicle early on in the investigation. They said they believed it might be involved in Crawford’s murder. The Camrao was later located in Cleveland.
The City of Akron wrote, “Akron Police Department has released these images of what they believe may be the car involved in the murder of Na’kia Crawford. If you have any information, please contact the Akron Police Department Detective Bureau at 330-375-2490. Please share.”
Police wrote of the vehicle, “Detectives believe the pictured vehicle may be involved in the homicide that occurred yesterday at N. Howard and E. North Street. The vehicle appears to be a black sports car with dark window tint.”
“Anyone with information is encouraged to please contact the Akron Police Department Detective Bureau at 330-375-2490 or 330-375-2Tip. The Summit County Crimestoppers, Call 330-434-COPS. Text TIPSCO with your tips to 274637. Callers can remain anonymous.”
3. Crawford Was Looking Forward to Going to College, Where She Planned to Study Computer Science
Crawford had already made plans for her future as she was going to attend college. She also knew what she planned to study: IT.
Ellen McWilliams, the assistant superintendent of Akron Public Schools, wrote on Twitter, “Say. Her. Name: Na’Kia Crawford. Proud graduate of North HS @akronschools with a beautiful bright future ahead of her studying IT at Central State University – HBCU. Our APS family mourns her loss beyond imagine. #BLM.”
The school recently featured Na’Kia in its student spotlight, saying she planned to study computer science.
Superintendent David James wrote in a statement, “Our children hold the promise of tomorrow inside themselves. We never know what each child may carry that will end up benefiting society or helping others. But waiting and watching as children grow into adults and begin to make a difference in the world around them is exciting to see.”
We will never know what Na’Kia Crawford might have done in or after college. She is our second student in a week to die a violent death. The flame of her candle went out way too early. To make it to her high school graduation, with plans for her future, especially during this difficult time of COVID-19, just stings that much more. The heartache is real for those of us left behind to pick up the pieces.
4. Crawford Loved History & Was Remembered as Kind & Hardworking
In the now heartbreaking Facebook post on June 3, Crawford expressed her excitement about graduating from high school.
“It was stressful, but I did it,” she wrote. “I’m so thankful.” Next step, college, she wrote.
In 2019, she shared a collage of missing black youth in a post that included the caption, “our youth are being taken.” She shared a post advocating for the release of Rodney Reed, a Texas death row inmate who maintains his innocence.
People who were only recently congratulating Crawford on graduation are now writing tributes to her. “This is too cruel…you didn’t deserve this…you were so bright and cool to hang with,” wrote one woman.
According to IndyOnline, her sister, Nicolette, said, “She was like my walking history book. She loved history. I learn something new from her every time I’m with her.” She was described to the news site as quiet, kind and hardworking.
5. Family & Friends Wrote Tributes to Crawford on Social Media
A relative called Crawford her “ride and die,” describing her as “so sweet, so innocent.”
Another relative wrote, “My family so hurt right now. I don’t even know how to pray….We will find her justice.”
“My cousin didn’t deserve that. My heart is broke,” another relative wrote on Facebook.
The Mason Community Learning Center wrote, “Please keep the family of Na’kia Crawford in your prayers. She passed away yesterday. Na’kia attended Mason CLC from KG-5th grade (2008-2013). #MasonFamily.”