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‘I have a big hole in my heart’: Akron mother desperate for answers in son’s murder

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 10:56 PM EDT
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AKRON, Ohio (WOIO) - Akron Police are searching for the person responsible for shooting and killing a 20-year-old man.

“There’s a car that just got shot up and hit a tree down the street from my house and it’s still there,” a neighbor told a 911 dispatcher. “The car’s messed up and everything.”

Sunday was the worst night of Lucrecia Tolbert-Robert’s life.

“I have a big hole in my heart,” Tolbert-Robert’s told 19 News as tears streamed down her cheeks. “In my life because I have been his mother for 20 years and I don’t remember how to exist in this world without him but yet I have to continue because I have another child, I have to be here for through all this.”

Akron police are investigating the homicide of her 20-year-old son, Gage Zirke.

The shooting happened on 11th Street SW at around 6:30 Sunday evening.

Officers found Zirke’s car crashed into a tree.

He had been shot and died at the scene.

“I felt like I was dying,” Tolbert-Roberts said. “I felt like somebody shot me because that’s what they did. They took a piece of me.”

Tolbert-Rogers had moved back to Akron with her son and daughter two years ago.

Before that, they lived in a suburb of Columbia, South Carolina, where Zirke was known as a big high school football star.

“All day today I’ve been fielding calls, emails, text messages from his classmates in South Carolina,” the mother said. “Many of them used to call me mom and I’m like I’ll never be able to say that again, so I ask them never to stop calling me that because that’s all I have now.”

The mother told 19 News she was really proud of her son. He recently bought a car, moved into his own apartment, and was working for a company spraying mosquito repellant.

The last time she saw him was Thursday when he took her to an Akron Rubber Ducks game.

“He called me Tuesday and was like, ‘Mom you wanna go to a game?’ I was like, ‘Sure,’ so I’m thinking let me go ahead and pay for it. He was like, ‘No, I got it, mom!’ I’m like, ‘Oh okay!’ and now that he was coming into himself as a young man, he was taking on the responsibilities of doing things for me.”

The mother is praying for justice and pleading with anyone with information on who killed her son to come forward.

“To the person or persons who did this, I would like them to know at this moment I can’t forgive them, but it will come,” said Tolbert-Roberts. “It will come with time.”

Akron police are not releasing any specifics about what kind of car they are looking for, but they are asking anyone who may have seen anything to contact them.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Akron Police Department Detective Bureau at 330-375-2490 or 330-375-2Tip.

You can also call the Summit County Crimestoppers at 330-434-COPS and you can text TIPSCO with your tips to 274637.

Callers can remain anonymous.

Akron police are investigating the homicide of 20-year-old Gage Zirke. His mother tells us he...
Akron police are investigating the homicide of 20-year-old Gage Zirke. His mother tells us he was a big football star in high school and was working hard to be independent.(Lucrecia Tolbert-Roberts)

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