Na’Kia Crawford, an Akron, Ohio, teen, had a bright future and college plans ahead of her when a gunman pulled alongside her car and ended her dreams and life.
Police in Akron are searching for Crawford’s killer; the 18-year-old recent high school graduate was shot multiple times and killed on June 14, a Sunday, as she sat in her vehicle with her grandmother at an Akron intersection. She left behind a heartbroken family and community.
“Black lives matter,” 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 a 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.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Crawford Was Shot by a Gunman Who Opened Fire Into Her Car
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 are 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.
Police said in a statement that they found Crawford shot to death in her car at East North and North Howard Streets.
There have been no arrests and the suspect is described as unknown.
2. Police Are Seeking a Dark Sports Car With Tinted Windows
Police released images of a vehicle. 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. School Officials Say Crawford Was a Recent Graduate of North High School Who Planned to Study IT in College
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, Who Loved History & Was Remembered as Hardworking, Was Excited About Graduation
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 Expressed Great Grief in Tributes to Crawford
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.”