AKRON, Ohio — Local and federal authorities have arrested three suspects in connection with the beating death of Akron teen Ethan Liming, sources confirmed to 3News' Phil Trexler Saturday morning.
The U.S. Marshals Service later announced brothers Deshawn Stafford Jr. and Tyler Stafford—20 and 19 years old, respectively—had been taken into custody along with their 21-year-old cousin Donovan Jones around 9:30 a.m. at separate locations, with the Akron Police Department assisting in the operation. The trio are currently being held on charges of murder and felonious assault, with Jones also accused of disrupting public service.
Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett released the following statement:
"I am happy to report that today, officers with the Akron Police Department, made several arrests in connection with the death of Ethan Liming. 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."
Liming, a 17-year-old soon-to-be senior at Firestone Community Center, was found dead near the basketball courts at the I Promise School on West Market Street around 10:45 p.m. back on June 2. Investigators believe he and others became involved in an altercation after one group of individuals fired a SplatRBall gun at another group playing basketball, and that Ethan was knocked unconscious and brutally assaulted in the scuffle.
"My son died because of a toy," Ethan's father Bill told 3News earlier this week, "and just goofing around as a teenager."
According to the U.S. Marshals, Deshawn and Tyler Stafford were both arrested at a home on the 500 block of North Howard Street in Akron while Jones was captured on the 200 block of Crosby Street. Sources tell WKYC they and their family members were allegedly bragging about killing Liming, leading witnesses to tip off law enforcement.
"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," Marshal Pete Elliot said. "This crime impacted an entire community and we stand alongside the community in seeking justice for Ethan."
Akron native and NBA legend LeBron James, whose foundation supports the I Promise School, expressed outrage over Ethan's death last week while offering prayers and condolences to the Liming family. Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan also issued remarks after the suspects were arrested:
"Ethan's senseless and tragic death has touched every person in our community. These arrests would not have been possible without the dedication of our Akron Police Department and their collaboration with the U.S. Marshals Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force. They have worked around the clock on this case and I thank them for their tireless efforts. My thoughts and prayers remain with the entire Liming family at this time."
Officials have stressed they do not believe Ethan's killing was justified or racially motivated in any way. The Staffords and Jones are scheduled to appear in Akron Municipal Court Monday at 9 a.m.