Herald Staff Writer
Several dozen family members and friends gathered at Lake Anna Park around sunset May 21 to mourn the loss of a man murdered a few days earlier on an Akron bus.
William A. Howell II, 21, grew up in Barberton and had moved to Cleveland when he was 19. A roofer by trade, he had recently moved to Akron and was on a bus at the Metro RTA Transit Center around 5 p.m. May 18.
“I’d heard he was going to meet his boss,” Beth Layton, Howell’s foster mother, told The Herald.
Around that time, police working the beat at the transit center heard gunshots. One pair of officers ran toward the sound of the gunfire and saw two young men fleeing, one with a gun. They chased them down and caught them across the street from the station.
Another set of officers went into the bus, crowded with passengers, and tended to Howell who had several gunshot wounds in his chest. Paramedics arrived and took him to Akron General Medical Center in critical condition.
Howell died on the operating table.
The gunman was identified as Kavon Jackson, 17. Jackson is charged with aggravated murder, carrying a concealed weapon, obstructing official business and misconduct at a public transportation system. Police say he had the gun suspected in the murder tucked into his waistband; he was taken to the Summit County Juvenile Detention Center. A second boy, also 17, was also apprehended but was determined not to be involved and was released.
Passengers on the bus told police that Howell and Jackson got into some sort of argument on the bus and Jackson pulled out the gun and shot Howell several times. No one else on the bus was harmed.
Family and friends of Howell were left devastated and the vigil at Lake Anna was thrown together in an attempt to cope.
“I don’t know,” Layton said, holding Howell’s 2-year-old daughter, Leilani. “I lost my son to violence. I’m lost. I’m numb. I’m trying to keep peace by bringing all these people here.”
The people brought together remembered Howell as a quick wit and loving father who was very protective of his family.
“I don’t know how I’m going to help Leilani,” the 2-year-old’s mother, Alyssa Cook, said.
The folks at the lake lit candles and left them in front of a big card with pictures of Howell and signed the card. Some lit and launched Chinese lanterns over the lake as the sun set.
Everyone there wanted change. Some want guns completely gone from the streets. Some, seeing what happened to Howell, want a gun for themselves.
“I hate guns, you all know that,” Cook said. “But I’m going to have to get one.”
No one wanted the status quo.