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Young shooting victim vowed to change his life, family says

Published: Fri, May 18, 2012 @ 12:05 a.m.


Melissa Watkins of Columbus takes time to reflect on the life of her cousin, Pako Lacey, 20, who was shot to death on the South Side earlier this week. Other family members embrace in the background in front of the East Avondale Avenue home where police found his body.

By John W. Goodwin Jr.



Family members say homicide victim Pako Lacey was on track to making changes to his life and looking forward to achieving some short-term goals.

Now, however, they just want police to find who is responsible for his death.

It had been less than 48 hours after Lacey, 20, and his 17-year-old girlfriend Juanetta Franklin had been found shot to death in an upstairs apartment at 240 E. Avondale Ave., but the family returned to the house to begin going through Lacey’s room.

Melissa Watkins, a cousin raised with Lacey since childhood, said she was overcome with emotion after finding a list of goals Lacey had written shortly before his death.

On that list Lacey said he wanted to obtain his General Educational Development diploma, get a job and start a family.

Those dreams evaporated Tuesday morning when, police believe, someone kicked in the door to the Avondale Avenue home and killed Lacey and Franklin.

Officers went to the duplex after receiving a call shortly before 2 p.m. Lacey was found lying in the bed with gunshot wounds to his buttocks, back and upper left shoulder. Not far from Lacey, they found Franklin lying on the floor covered with a blanket.

Several people told police gunshots were heard in the upstairs apartment at about 6 a.m., but no one was seen leaving the apartment after the shooting.

Police have noted that items were taken from the house such as television sets and a DVD player. Watkins said the thought that the slayings could be related to a theft is inconceivable.

“Two flat screens [TVs] and some other little stuff — they could have taken that while he was asleep. They did not have to kill him,” she said. “Pako was just so funny and a real cool person. He had a lot of friends and a lot of family. In a million years, I never would have thought this would happen to Pako.”

Chief Rod Foley is encouraging anyone who knows anything to bring that information to police.

“We are trying to head off any potential retaliation. Somebody out there knows who is responsible, but we have not had anybody come forward,” Foley said. “We are talking to people and asking that they come to us with information and let us do our jobs.”

Watkins said the family is not interested in retaliation, but they do want police to find and arrest whomever is responsible for her cousin’s death. She said the family and close friends are working with police, but she also encourages anyone else in the community with information to come forward.


1JorgeeBoi(6 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Change his life ? He was "A good kid" as stated in the Vindicator on Wednesday. And what about his 17 year old child girlfriend that was sleeping with him? Where are her parents? Did she already graduate from school ?What the hell was she doing with him this time in the morning.Such great values that these kids' parents teach them.

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2UsuallyBlunt(105 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

"Change his Life" ? From What? Sounds like he pissed someone off and was scared enough to make a change in the hopes that he could escape them...it didn't work!

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3busyman(239 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

His faith was decided about 20 years ago when he was brought into this world by a young unwed mother that were not ready to raise a child without the help of a father to tell him right from wrong. These young men and women are being raise by the streets and choose the wrong authority figures to guide them. It is a shame that the only thing that can save these young men and women are the prisons they end up in, the same prisons that we send them too to protect the law bidding people from them.

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4macieanderson(3 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

R.I.P Pako
We Know You're In A Better Place .
Yeah , You Made Some Mistakes , Most You Regret . And Close Friends And Family Knew You Were Good At Heart , And That You Had Dreams And Aspirations Just Like Any Other Human . And Regardless Of Anything Wrong You Did Or Said , You Where Human And Didn't Deserve To Go Like This .
But Hopefully You're In Heaven Free Of Pain And Despair , No Longer Beaten Down By The Struggles Of Youngstown , Nor The Ignorant People .
Rest Easyy Pako !

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5grg019(34 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Some of you commenters are so judgemental. No one's life is perfect. This young man may have made mistakes, but if you weren't there in his life, or this young woman's life, how can you decide what their fate was or was going to be? Schools and colleges that have shooting sprees, are those kids deserving of the violence? Were they trying to hide away? No! Some of their families are going through tough times emotionally too, in which some of those kids were in great homes with BOTH parents. If we want to pay attention to kids, pay attention to all of them.

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6tonyb2913(20 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

grg019 What you had written is really dumb! Those children that are killed in shooting sprees werent living a dangerous lifestyle idiot! On the other hand I still feel so bad whenever the "hood" claims another victim. Its tough to get out of that lifestyle with no good role models.

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7IMPACT(5 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

The lure of the street life and the highs from the drugs have imprisoned many in the hood. For many there is no escape because they can't escape from their bonded identity.

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8grg019(34 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

What lifestyle tonyb2913, sleeping peacefully @ 6am in the morning? Keep in mind, police didn't find drugs or did they mention that it was drug related. Those dirtbags killed that man in cold blood! Just as the shooters in the sprees did! Know someones point first before you retaliate! BIGGER IDIOT! STOP JUDGING AND PAY ATTENTION TO ALL YOUNGSTERS! By the way, violence is not happening only in the "HOOD" nowadays so stop covering it up!

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9grg019(34 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

And middlefinger, the problem started in the late 70's when MOB activity began...

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