YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Vicki Rankin has gotten the phone call all parents dread not once, but twice.
The first time was April 22, 1996, when her 18-year-old son Terrance Rankin was shot in the head and killed in his Fruit Street home and her other son Shon, then 17, was shot in the back.
Shon survived, but early Sunday morning Vicki got the call again. This time the call was about Shon, who was found shot to death in a car on Interstate 680 south at Exit 6B on Market Street.
Shon’s death gives the city 15 homicides for the year, but for Vicki, it is the reliving of a nightmare that began with Terrance’s murder.
She said Shon was deeply troubled by his brother’s death. The two were very close, she said.
“They were like peas in a pod,” Vicki said of Shon and his brother. “When you saw one, you saw the other.”
Chief Of Detectives Capt. Brad Blackburn said a passer-by spotted the car off the exit ramp about 3 a.m. Sunday. When officers arrived, they found Rankin shot dead in the car.
Blackburn said the car had been shot at “multiple” times and police collected several shell casings on the freeway leading up to the crime scene.
Police Chief Robin Lees said there may have been two different weapons involved. He said officers found two different types of casings on the freeway but they were not sure if some of those found were older. He said ballistics tests will be done to determine if they are associated with Rankin’s death.
Blackburn said whoever shot Shon was not in the car with him.
Last year, Youngstown had 20 homicides and at this point in 2019, the city had 10 homicides.
Shon’s death is also the second homicide on Interstate 680 this year. On Mother’s Day, Urrayne Bulls, 24, of Warren, was found shot to death in an SUV in the southbound exit ramp for Shirley Road. Police have yet to make an arrest in that case but have so far cleared or made an arrest in nine of the 15 homicides this year.
In 2019, detectives cleared six of 20 homicide cases.
Vicki said her son was a well liked person and the father of six daughters, who was at a wedding for a sister before he was killed.
“Everybody loved Shon,” Vicki said. “He loved to tell jokes and crack on people. He loved to play cards. He was always there. He will be missed by many people.”
She acknowledged that Shon did have some run ins with the law. He served a 34-month sentence on drug charges in federal court and was released in 2019 and he was acquitted of a 2001 shooting death in 2008. He was tried twice in the case. The first time the jury could not reach a verdict and he was found not guilty in the retrial.
Before the wedding Saturday, Shon stopped at his mother’s to show off his outfit. It was the last time she saw him alive.
“He asked, ‘how do I look?’” Vicki said.
She spoke to him one more time, about 11 p.m., and he told her he was not staying out much longer.
“He said ‘I’m going home,’” Vicki said.
Shon had a soft spot for dogs and was constantly bringing strays home, Vicki said.
“Every time he found a stray dog he would bring it to me,” Vicki said.
Vicki said her son told her he was tired and he had a lot weighing on him. As much as it hurts, she said she believes it was God’s way of taking him home.
“God came and got Shon because he wasn’t at peace,” Vicki said. “He said he was tired.”
Anyone who might have seen something on the freeway around the time Shon was found can call the Detective Bureau at 330-742-8911.