Editor’s note: Above is a report from WKBN on the murder in 2012.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — For years, Sparkle Johnson has lamented if her son only had something to keep him busy, Carlos Crues might still be alive.
Instead, he was shot dead early Jan. 28, 2012, just two weeks after he turned 17. His case is unsolved.
She said her sportsman son had tried out for basketball but was not able to make the team. She and her then-fiance and now-husband were trying to get him back on the team when he was killed during a spate of gunfire at about 1:50 a.m. in front of a 1040 Kendis Circle apartment.
Police were called there for gunfire and found Carlos shot to death on a sidewalk. Witnesses reported hearing two separate series of shots — first six shots followed by a short pause and then three or four more shots.
“I just feel like if he had stayed active, he would’ve been here. He would’ve been tired,” Sparkle said.
At the time, investigators told WKBN reporter Julie Bercik that Carlos was at a party at the apartment complex on the East Side and was trying to walk across the complex when he was shot and killed.
Friends and family took to social media to share their grief on the loss of “Los,” as he was nicknamed, and one of those posts also gave detectives something to look into, but nothing ever panned out.
The lead investigator on the case, Detective Sgt. Michael Lambert, told Bercik that there were stories to be sorted out.
“There’s a lot of he-said, she-said stuff going on right now,” Lambert said.
Now 46 and the mother of three girls who are younger than Carlos would be if he was still alive, Sparkle, a Woodrow Wilson High School graduate who still lives on the South Side, said Carlos was crazy about sports, especially football and basketball.
Her son also liked to watch TV and listen to music, Sparkle said.
She said Carlos was killed just 14 days after she gave birth to his baby sister.
Since he has been gone, Sparkle said “it’s been difficult.”
“I just bought him a car for his birthday,” she said of the time before his death.
In the aftermath of Carlos’ death, Sparkle had three young children to raise, and the older two had questions about why their big brother wasn’t around that were hard to answer, Sparkle said.
“It was very, very hard for the older two,” Sparkle said.
Sparkle also stayed away from the news because every time she heard about another young person being killed, she flashed back to her son’s death.
“It just seemed like it was depressing every time someone was being killed,” Sparkle said.
The year Carlos was killed, 27 people were murdered in Youngstown. Police cleared or made an arrest in 15 of those cases.
Reports at the time said during their investigation, police collected several guns, including a 9mm, which matched the type of gun used to kill Carlos, and also served a search warrant, but they were never able to charge someone.
According to The Vindicator, a suspect in Carlos’ death was killed in a shooting about two weeks after Carlos was killed. That shooting, however, was not related to Carlos’ death, the newspaper said. A suspect was arrested in that case and sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Sparkle said she is hoping she can get some answers about who killed her son.
“I just want justice for my son, that’s all,” she said.
The passage of time has dulled the pain of his passing somewhat, but not entirely, Sparkle said.
“Sometimes, I’m at peace with it,” she said. “And sometimes, I’m not.”
This story is part of a series of cold cases that WKBN is examining.
Anyone with information on the Jan. 28, 2012, murder of Carlos Crues, or any of the other unsolved homicides below from 2012 can call CrimeStoppers Youngstown at 330-742-8911 or CrimeStoppers Youngstown at 330-746-CLUE.
2012 Unsolved Homicides:
Jan. 7: Tre-Von Kimbrough, 18, found dead after being shot multiple times behind a vacant business in the 3700 block of Market Street.
Jan. 14: William Patterson, 60, found beaten and shot to death in his West Evergreen Avenue home.
Jan. 28: Carlos Crues Jr., 17, is shot after leaving a party early in the morning on Kendis Circle.
March 14: Tito Haskins, 25, is found dead on Boston Avenue.
April 25: Pierre McKinney, 21, is killed in a drive-by shooting on Saranac Avenue.
May 15: Pako Lacey, 20 and Juanetta Franklin, 17, are found shot to death in an apartment on East Avondale Avenue.
June 22: Curtis Moses, 43, is shot and killed about 2:45 a.m. outside the Partners Jazz and Blues Lounge on Oakhill Avenue.
June 29: Alfred Griffin, 38, is gunned down in his car at Fifth and Granada avenues.
July 4: Brian Angel, 24, is shot dead at a home in the 3000 block of McGuffey Road as he tries to walk towards his car.
Oct. 30: Darnell Green, 21, is found shot to death in a driveway on Roslyn Avenue.
Nov. 18: Tamarick D. Moore, 18, is found shot to death in a vehicle at the same East Avondale Avenue apartment where Lacey and Franklin were killed on May 15.