Cleveland Police still search for suspect in car accident turned murder investigation at the Kinsman Party Center

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 9:51 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Police say they’re still looking for the suspect in a shooting at a party center over the weekend. Officers believe the shooter killed a driver who ran into another car while leaving the late-night party.

Terri Ellis says she immediately started praying when she got the call that her 28-year-old son had been shot in the head outside of the Kinsman Party Center last Sunday.

“I just kept saying, ‘Lord prepare me for this. Lord, I need your strength right now Lord,’” she said.

Ballons and pictures of Deontay Ellis now cling to the pole in the center’s parking lot.

His mother and his Aunts say Deontay was a hard worker. He installed drywall for remodeling projects and just started his own business.

“I had just seen him, you know, hours before he was murdered. He was talking about so many positive things. He was such a positive person,” Tonya Ellis said.

A woman who told dispatchers she lives a street over called first called 911 around 3:30 AM, saying she heard shots fired at the party center and then a crash.

“Somebody is shooting over there,” she said.

Ellis’s mother says other family members who were at the party with Deontay that night told her there was a mad dash to leave around that time.

“Everybody was rushing out to try to get out,” Terri Ellis said.

The party center is right across the street from the fourth district Cleveland Police station.

The police report shows officers got here within minutes after the first 911 call came in. But within that short time, the same neighbor appears to have called 911 again, reporting another shot fired.

“I’ve called twice now,” she said. “But now it sounds like somebody’s fired a shot and now there’s hollering.”

Detectives believe Ellis ran into another car in the parking lot. They believe an argument over the accident then lead to Ellis’s murder.

“It’s just so senseless,” Tonya Ellis said.

Deontay’s family is still trying to make sense of what happened. It’s unclear whether Ellis was the shooter’s target before the crash, or if Ellis was involved in the original incident that caused everyone to leave in a hurry.

“There may be a million reasons, but none quite good enough to qualify what took place,” Tracie Ellis-Reid said.

Remarkably, Ellis’s mother says she’s found the strength to forgive the shooter.

“I have forgiven him, and I don’t even know who he is,” she said.

But, she and her sisters still want him found and held accountable.

“If you are out there are you are watching this, turn yourself in,” Tonya said. “Please., turn yourself in. You are wrong.”

If you know anything about last weekend’s murder, call Cleveland Police.

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