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Akron Police: Rep. Emilia Sykes received call threatening to kill father, Sen. Vernon Sykes, if she didn't 'step aside'

The suspect told Emilia Sykes that he had her father in his custody and would kill him unless she would 'step aside' from her political stances and resign.

AKRON, Ohio — The Akron Police Department is investigation a threatening phone call made to Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes and her father, State Senator Vernon Sykes, last week. 

In their report, Akron Police say Emilia Sykes received the call sometime after after 3:00 p.m. last Saturday. The suspect used her father's phone number in making the call. He told Emilia Sykes that he had her father in his custody and would kill him unless she would 'step aside' from her political stances and resign. The suspect warned Sykes not to call the police. 

Emilia Sykes hung up the phone and then called Vernon Sykes' phone back. He answered and told his daughter that he had received a phone call approximately 15 minutes before the suspect called Emilia Sykes. The call was disconnected. 

Last week, Emilia Sykes spoke with 3News about Governor Mike DeWine's efforts to address the disproportionate number of African Americans who have contracted COVID-19.

“I worry that it’s just too little, too late,” said Sykes.

RELATED: Rep. Emilia Sykes: DeWine’s steps to address the COVID-19 impact on blacks are 'too little, too late'

DeWine had announced initial findings from his Minority Health Task Force, that called for data-driven awareness efforts and more testing of minorities.

Sykes said the governor waited too long to save lives.

“We heard the announcement about the messaging campaign. You know it's kind of hard to start a message campaign two months into something, and shift, so we missed the boat on that one,” said Rep. Sykes.

In Ohio, African Americans make up 14% of the population. Yet, blacks account for 31% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations, and only 10% have been tested. 

Once news of the threatening call came out, DeWine and several key Ohio lawmakers came out with strong condemnations. 

"I was very disturbed to learn that threats of violence were made over the weekend against Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes and State Senator Vernon Sykes. It is wrong. It is reprehensible, and it is unconscionable to threaten someone with violence for doing the job they were elected to do. Simply put: hatred has no place in Ohio, and violence will not be tolerated," said DeWine in a statement.

RELATED: Gov. Mike DeWine, Ohio legislative leaders condemn threat made against Rep. Emilia Sykes and State Sen. Vernon Sykes

Ohio Senate leaders, President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights), added this statement:

"Over the weekend, a threat of violence was made against our colleagues State Senator Vernon Sykes and Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes. This threat related directly to the performance of their duties as public officials.

We condemn any threats of physical harm, or any other harm, against these public servants or any other Ohioans. Let us be absolutely clear: it is never acceptable to intimidate or threaten a public official, and it is a felony to do so. We have asked law enforcement to fully investigate this occurrence and prosecute the offenders to the fullest extent of the law.

We ask all Ohioans to join us in calling for civility and compassion, while condemning the hatred that seeks to divide us."

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has volunteered his office’s full support into the investigation. “Whether it is technological assistance from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, or assistance from our special prosecution unit, we stand ready to aid your efforts as needed," Yost wrote in a letter addressed to Chief Kenneth Ball, Akron Police Department; Colonel Richard Fambro, Ohio State Highway Patrol; and Sheriff Steve Barry, Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

RELATED: Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost offers to aid in investigation of threatening phone call made to Northeast Ohio legislators

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