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'This was so senseless': Four arrested in Lorain killing

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    Cheryl Towner (left) cries as she talks to police outside the home of Jimmie Holland in Lorain on Monday.


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    Lorain resident Cheryl Towner speaks about her husband Jimmie Holland on Tuesday evening, Aug. 30.


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LORAIN — Four individuals have been arrested in relation to a Monday homicide, and three of them have been charged with murder.

The four, all of whom were from Lorain, were charged in connection with the shooting death of Jimmie Holland Jr., 38, who was discovered in his upstairs apartment at 910 Lexington Ave., shortly before 11 a.m. Monday.

According to a news release from the Lorain Police Department, Elliot Kirkland, 27, Mark Sanchez, 24, and Jasmine Schafer, 27, have been charged with one count of murder. The fourth person, Latrice Thomas, 35, has been charged with one count of obstructing justice.

A vigil is planned for Holland at 7 p.m. today in the area of 910 Lexington Ave.

“Detective Buddy Sivert and members of the Lorain Police Department and the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force are credited with a voracious investigation that led to the rapid identification and apprehension of the person responsible for the murder of Mr. Holland,” the release said.

Schafer, who made the initial 911 call at 10:56 a.m. Monday, said she came to the residence to braid Holland’s hair and found him bleeding in a bedroom and unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate him.

“I got really scared and I left because I don’t know if the people who did this are around there waiting for people to come into the house or whatever,” she said on the call.

Police Lt. Ed Super said both Schafer and Thomas were present when police arrived and they were taken from the scene. The Jeep Liberty they were driving was towed from the Lexington Avenue residence.

“Sanchez was arrested in Lorain Monday night thanks to our narcotics unit and patrolmen and the Northern Ohio Violence Fugitive Task Force picked up Kirkland somewhere in Cuyahoga County,” Super said, although he wasn’t able to specify where. “The Liberty was taken because it’s part of the investigation, but we’re not really prepared to release more than that right now.”

Super said more charges are expected in the incident after it’s reviewed by the county prosecutor’s office.

Cheryl Towner, Holland’s partner of 16 years who considered him her husband although the two weren’t legally married, said with the exception of Schafer, Holland didn’t know any of those arrested for his murder.

“I just want justice because this was so senseless,” Towner said. “He was my soul. How do you raise two sons without a father?”

Towner said Schafer braided Holland’s hair a couple of times, but the two weren’t close enough to even be considered friends.

Towner said while she was waiting to talk to police Monday, Schafer was being escorted out of the station by police, and she stopped to apologize for Towner’s loss. Towner said the gesture took her by surprise because she doesn’t know Schafer beyond Holland telling her she had done his hair.

“I know every person my husband talked to because, above all, we were best friends for 16 years,” she said.

That’s not to say Holland and Towner didn’t have the occasional marital problems, Towner said. Problems had brewed between Holland, Towner and Towner’s daughter from a previous marriage whom Holland had raised since the age of 3.

Then Towner said she was diagnosed with cancer, which she overcame, but the two were stressed. About a year ago, Holland and Towner decided to live separately, she said.

“It’s hard to explain to those on the outside, but sometimes instead of a separation or divorce, you need to take a step back and breathe,” she said.

But that wasn’t the only reason Holland moved. Around the same time the couple was experiencing problems, their home was burglarized, and everything was stolen, Towner said.

Towner said Holland mainly took up residence in the Lexington Avenue apartment in the hope of eventually starting a new chapter for their family in a new area.

Towner said she and Holland had also been purchasing new belongings. The Lexington Avenue apartment had new televisions, game systems and furnishings because Holland didn’t want to keep the new items in the West 29th Street home since it had been burglarized so many times, Towner said.

While seated on the back step of her West 29th Street home Tuesday, Towner talked about Holland.

Holland was the father of five children. He had three sons from Towner, one of whom died a few hours after birth, and two twin daughters from a previous relationship. He graduated from Elyria High School, Towner said, and he made a living through online game streaming.

“Gaming was his life,” Towner said. “He loved it and was good at it. He helped develop games and did beta tests. Other than that, he loved his cars and being a father.”

Holland loved basketball, Towner said, and he adored his children. Even though the two had been living apart for a year, Towner said Holland saw her and his children all the time.

Towner said Holland had recently been getting threatening phone calls from a man she believes may be associated with Sanchez, but he dismissed the calls.

“All he kept saying is ‘sometimes in life people don’t like when other people have nice stuff,’” Towner said.

Holland had two nice cars, Towner said, and the apartment was full of items which Towner said were supposed to one day fill a new home for the couple.

She said Towner had no enemies and never hurt anyone.

“He was a big teddy bear who played video games at 38,” Towner said. “He didn’t bother nobody.”

According to Lorain Municipal Court records, Kirkland, Schafer and Thomas had prior assault charges levied against them with Kirkland and Schafer also having previously faced domestic violence charges.

Records show Kirkland and Sanchez both have faced drug-related charges, and Sanchez also has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

The city is now at seven homicides for 2016 — the highest since 2009. The only case in which an arrest hasn’t been made is the Aug. 14 shooting death of Robert Gnizak at the Taco Bell on Oberlin Avenue.

Police are seeking information and offering a $15,000 reward for tips that lead to an arrest in Gnizak’s slaying.

Those with information are being asked to call (440) 204-2100 or (440) 204-2105.

Contact Katie Nix at 329-7129 or knix@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @KatieNix330Contact Jon Wysochanski at 329-7123 or jwysochanski@chroniclet.com.

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