US Marshals arrest three men, 19, 20, and 21, over death of boy, 17, who was fatally beaten

US Marshals arrest three men, 19, 20, and 21, over death of boy, 17, who was beaten to death in car park of LeBron James-founded high school in Ohio

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The U.S. Marshals Service arrested three men accused of fatally beating a 17-year-old boy outside the high school founded by LeBron James during a fight provoked by a toy gun.

The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force tracked down Deshawn Stafford, 20, Tyler Stafford, 19, and Donovon Jones, 21, and arrested them on an Akron Police Department Warrant for the death of high school football player Ethan Liming on the basketball courts near the I Promise School on June 2.

Liming and a group of friends were joy-riding in a car and apparently provoked the fight with the three men by shooting at them with a plastic Splatrball Water Bead Blaster.

Deshawn Stafford, 20, top left, Tyler Stafford, 19, top right, and Donovon Jones, 21, bottom left, were arrested in the beating death of Ethan Liming, 17, on June 2

Deshawn Stafford, 20, top left, Tyler Stafford, 19, top right, and Donovon Jones, 21, bottom left, were arrested in the beating death of Ethan Liming, 17, on June 2

Deshawn and Tyler Stafford, who live together in the 500 block of North Howard Street in Akron, Ohio, were arrested by the Marshals and police. Jones was captured separately in the 200 block of Crosby Street, also in Akron.

‘I am happy to report that today, officers with the Akron Police Department, made several arrests in connection with the death of Ethan Liming,’ Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett said. 

‘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.’

Ethan Liming, 17, of Akron was beaten to death after he and his friends shot at men on a basketball court with a toy gun

Ethan Liming, 17, of Akron was beaten to death after he and his friends shot at men on a basketball court with a toy gun

Liming's family and friends gathered to remember the teen

Liming’s family and friends gathered to remember the teen

The fight between the men and Liming began when the boys were riding around in a car on Saturday night with the toy gun. One of the boys reportedly shot at the basketball court where the three men where playing a game with others.

The shooting caused some on the court to run away and, according to the chief, the boys chased after them temporarily. The boys went back to their car at which time they were confronted by the three men.

‘A fight ensues and subsequently, Ethan Liming is dead,’ the chief said at a press conference.

The dead boy’s father, Bill Liming, said that his son was sucker punched during the fight and suggested his death emerged out of the racial animosity prevalent in today’s culture.

‘He was fighting back for his life,’ the dad said. ‘A third individual came up behind him and overwhelmed him. And they knocked him out on the ground. His friends tried to help him.’

He said his friends unsuccessfully tried to drive the other group away.

‘My son Ethan Liming was murdered by three African American males and a female who stood by and did nothing,’ Bill Liming said.

‘We live in a sick world. People look at each other based on the color of skin or the fact somebody disagrees with somebody else. And because you disagree with me you must be evil,’ he said. ‘And we have so dehumanized each other in our society, that’s why my son was murdered. Some people looked at him as somebody whose life didn’t matter. And it just breaks our hearts. And we don’t want this to happen to anybody else’s child.’ 

After the arrests, Jennifer Liming, the boy’s mother told the Akron Beacon Journal that she hopes that her son’s death will cause people to think before they react to anger.

‘I just hope when people are feeling angry at somebody for something they did to them, they just take a breath and think for a second. Think about my son,’ she told the paper.

Ethan Liming, 17, died near the basketball courts of the I Promise School in Akron on June 2

Ethan Liming, 17, died near the basketball courts of the I Promise School in Akron on June 2

Police said Liming was riding around with his friends when one or two of them reportedly used this Splatrball Water Bead Blaster and shot a group of males which led to the fight

Police said Liming was riding around with his friends when one or two of them reportedly used this Splatrball Water Bead Blaster and shot a group of males which led to the fight

Police have said that the death was not racially motivated and that the boys ‘unfortunately provoked the altercation.’ 

‘There were assumptions made that this was a race-related incident,’ the police chief said at the presser. ‘There is nothing that we have in our possession right now, any information at all, indicating that race played a role in this homicide.

‘If we do receive information that race played a role in this, as in any homicide, we will consult with our prosecuting attorneys and add additional charges.’ 

The Marshals Service vowed to continue to help police on the case.

‘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,’ U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott said. ‘This crime impacted an entire community and we stand alongside the community in seeking justice for Ethan.’

Basketball star LeBron James asked his 51 million followers on Twitter to 'pray for our community' following the death of the teen on the campus of his I Promise School

Basketball star LeBron James asked his 51 million followers on Twitter to ‘pray for our community’ following the death of the teen on the campus of his I Promise School

Liming, who will be buried on June 17, did not attend the I Promise school. He would have been a senior next year at the Firestone High School where he played football, basketball and baseball, according to his obituary.

‘He was a loyal friend, always helping those in need,’ the memorial said. ‘Ethan didn’t care about the color of your skin or the money in your pocket – he cared about what was in your heart.’ 

After the death, the LeBron James Family Foundation shared the following statement on social media expressing condolences:

‘Our community is everything to us. We were devastated to learn of the overnight incident that saw a life lost near our school. We are grieving with our community over another senseless act of violence. Our campus is safe and secure as we continue to do everything we can to support our students, families, and the entire Akron community.’

LeBron did not comment on social media after the arrests. 

Akron Public Schools Superintendent Christine Fowler Mack sent an email faculty and staff the day after the incident that read:

‘Our Akron Public Schools family expresses its deepest condolences and offers its prayers to the family and friends of a student who lost his life last night. We mourn as one for Ethan Liming, a 17 year old rising senior at Firestone Community Learning Center. Ethan was a student leader at his school and was in the Academy of Design there.

‘The death of a student affects all of Akron Public Schools. Ethan’s passing is, sadly, one of many we have experienced during this school year. May we all pause a moment from our daily pressures to give thanks for the lives of these children. May we forever find ways to keep our memories of them alive. Each of these losses reminds us about how precious, and sometimes fleeting, life can be.

Our crisis team is assisting staff at Firestone CLC and, as always, will make themselves available to students.’

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