By Carol Biliczky
Beacon Journal staff writer
Friends, family members and residents of the North Akron community will gather tonight for a vigil honoring the four victims of Thursday’s mass shooting.
The candlelight vigil begins at 8 p.m. in the parking lot of the Kimlyn Circle townhouse complex where the shooting took place.
April Roberts-Gilbert, whose son, Ronald Roberts of Akron, was killed in the attack, said Saturday that she hopes unity would come out of the event which honors all four of the young victims.
Also killed in the attack were Kem Rashad Delaney, 23, of Akron; Maria Nash, 19, and a Garfield High School graduate; and Kiana Welch, 19, a Cleveland area resident who was dating Ronald Roberts.
The four were found dead in the basement of a townhouse leased by Roberts-Gilbert’s daughter. Each victim was shot multiple times in the head in a slaying that is considered the most deadly killing in recent Akron history.
The relatively quiet townhouse complex is owned by the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority and serves as a home to dozens of children and their parents. Police reports show two burglaries took place in the past year around the multiunit complex near Chapel Hill Mall, but no other violent crimes prior to Thursday’s mass shooting.
Police on Saturday released no new details about the crime or their investigation. They said no suspects have been identified. Detectives have yet to say what may have prompted the shooting.
Last week’s killings were discovered by a friend of Ronald Roberts, who kept trying to call him by cellphone, Roberts-Gilbert said.
“Someone else answered the phone, and he knew that wasn’t right,” she said.
That led the friend to come to the home and find the bodies in the basement, she reported.
She said she was perplexed about what could have gone so wrong in her son’s life.
“This doesn’t make sense,” she said. “My son was a people person. He would have given you the shirt off his back.”
She said her son was a student at Stark State and intended to transfer to Kent State as soon as his student loan money became available. A talented artist who loved music, he wanted to study graphic design, she said.
Roberts attended Buchtel High in Akron and went on to earn his GED.
He had close ties with at least two of the people with whom he died, his mother said.
He and Delaney had been best friends since they were toddlers and Roberts had been dating Welch for more than a year.
The couple had plans for the future, Gilbert said.
“Kiana was crazy about my son, I can tell you that much,” she said.
In addition, Roberts’ sister, Diamond, 25, was living in the apartment at which the killings took place, but was not home at the time, his mother said.
Roberts also leaves his father, Donald Durham of Akron and two sisters and one brother — Sharita Roberts of Cleveland and Donald Roberts and Danielle Roberts, both of Akron. He had one half-sister and two half-brothers.
The family has yet to announce funeral arrangements, which are being handled by Stewart & Calhoun Funeral Home.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.