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Police probe teen’s slaying

Published: Tue, January 31, 2012 @ 12:04 a.m.

Youngstown boy shot as he walked home from a party


Crues Jr.

By John W. Goodwin Jr.



Carlos Crues Jr. survived an attempted shooting earlier this month only to be shot and killed while attending a party this past weekend.

Police are not discussing motives or suspects in the slaying of the 17-year-old Youngstown boy, and family members are left to wonder why someone killed the youth they describe as an outgoing, lovable person who cared deeply for others.

Crues Jr. was leaving an East Side party on Kendis Circle just before 2 a.m. Saturday walking with at least two females when shots were fired and Crues Jr. was killed. He was dead by the time officers arrived and covered in a sheet a nearby resident placed over his body.

Lt. John Kelty said there have been no arrests made in the shooting.

“We are still investigating and trying to identify everyone at that party so we can interview them. That is going to be a cumbersome task to identify everyone and get them down here for an interview,” he said.

Kelty said there is no motive that he can discuss at this point, but the department is asking that anyone attending the Friday night/Saturday morning party to contact police.

Carlos Crues Sr. said his son was a likable individual who enjoyed sports and cared deeply about his friends and family.

“When he was younger, I got him into football, and he loved it. He was supportive of other kids. We were able to keep him on a straight path and he shared that with other kids,” Crues Sr. said.

He said his son also was very confident, a confidence that could often be mistaken as “cocky” and would sometimes lead to conflict with others. He said others misreading the confidence in Crues Jr. may have led to jealously and ultimately the shooting of his son.

“It was pure jealously. If someone didn’t like him, it was plain jealously,” he said. “He was just friends with everybody.”

Sparkle Johnson, the teen’s mother, said her son did not deal drugs nor was in any kind of trouble.

She said she and Crues Sr. kept him busy to keep him out of trouble.

“He was definitely a ‘mama’s boy.’ That was my only son,” Johnson said. “He had both his parents, and we were both much involved in his life. We busted our behinds to instill education and do for our kids.”

Johnson said she is now just left with fond memories of her son.

“I have so many good memories about him. He was a clown and kept everybody smiling.”

Crues Jr. reportedly was shot at earlier this year. According to police reports, Crues Jr. was standing in the driveway of a Douglas Avenue home on the South Side on Jan. 8 when a gold four-door car pulled up and the rear passenger began firing shots in his direction. Crues Jr. was able to run away without being hit by the gunfire.

Crues Jr. was able to identify two of the men in the car by first name, but no arrests were made. Police did not say whether the two shootings are believed to be connected.

Crues Jr. had a brother who was murdered in 2008 on the city’s South Side. JaJuan Robbins was beaten and shot at a Cain Street home in 2008 when he was 20.

James A. Hudson Jr. was found guilty of murder with a firearm specification in Robbins’ death. He is serving a 15-year-to-life sentence in the Mansfield Correctional Institution.

After losing two sons to violence, Crues Sr. acknowledges the difficulties in raising black males in the Youngstown area, but he encourages other parents to fight the battle in keeping their kids in line.

Tragedy, he said, can happen despite the best efforts.

“I was determined to make parenting a win-win situation, if I was with the mother or not. I was determined to fill every void,” Crues Sr. said. “When kids get a certain age, they run away from us, but just never give up on them. I never gave up on them. You just have to fight and fight and fight and pray.”

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