National News

Toledo woman shot after making pizza delivery

Posted June 7, 2018 11:50 a.m. EDT

— A mother said she's already forgiven the gunman who fatally shot her daughter late Tuesday while she was delivering a pizza in the city's center.

Laverne Knighten, 65, of the 1700 block of Hamilton, just wants the person responsible for killing her daughter, Sadari Knighten, 28, to turn himself or herself in.

"I've already forgiven them, but I just don't want them to do nothing else to nobody else's family," she said. "I mean it, too."

Miss Knighten was shot shortly after 11 p.m. after making a delivery to a residence in the 800 block of Hoag Street. She later died at ProMedica Toledo Hospital, according to police.

The Lucas County Coroner's Office completed an autopsy Wednesday on Miss Knighten. Dr. James Patrick, the Lucas County coroner, said she died of a single gunshot wound to the chest. The death is an apparent homicide, with an official ruling pending toxicology tests, he said.

Family and friends said Wednesday they believe the shooting was a random act.

"I have faith in the community. We'll find who's responsible for this. I trust in God, I trust in police, but more so in our community. It happened in the same neighborhood we grew up in," Miss Knighten's brother, Willie Knighten, Jr., 46, said.

Mr. Knighten, a former gang member who was released from prison in 2009 after spending 13 years in prison for a murder conviction, works with felons and gang members to live productive lives upon release. He said the biggest lesson he taught his sister was to treat everyone with respect, and she followed that advice.

Miss Knighten worked at Happy's Pizza for about a year, store manager Julie Bocanegra said. Miss Knighten worked a variety of shifts.

Roxann Kirk, of the 800 block of Hoag Street, said she ordered pizza Tuesday from Happy's and received her delivery from Miss Knighten. Soon after she closed her front door, Ms. Kirk said she heard calls from another person outside her residence saying Miss Knighten had been shot.

"She had gone back in her car when she got shot," Ms. Kirk said.

Miss Knighten's vehicle was parked in Ms. Kirk's driveway.

Ms. Kirk said several homes on her street have been shot at in the past week. Ms. Kirk's front window, along with one upstairs, was shot out. At least two other homes and a nearby church were also shot, she said.

An unknown suspect shot into a few homes in the 800 block of Hoag on May 28, according to a Toledo police detective's log. It's unknown if any of the previous home shootings are connected to Tuesday's homicide.

Toledo police have not made any arrests as of Wednesday in connection with Miss Knighten's death.

"Nothing is more important than the safety of our citizens, and even though Toledo's overall crime rate has gone down, we know that even one homicide is one too many," Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said in a statement provided to The Blade. "I will continue to work with Chief Kral on developing strategies to make our neighborhoods safe and livable."

Miss Knighten, who attended Alliance Academy of Toledo, posted on Facebook asking for someone to ride with her Tuesday on pizza deliveries. Family and friends said she asked for someone to go with her frequently. She liked to be around people, it helped the time pass, and someone could help her enter addresses into a GPS while on runs, said Carrie Knox, a manager at Happy's Pizza.

Miss Knighten's family and friends described her as a caring, loving young woman who would "give the shirt off her back," her mother said.

She often helped the less fortunate. If she saw homeless people on the street, she gave them money to get a meal or purchased food for them, Ms. Knox said.

"She was loved by so many and she will continue to be loved," Ms. Knox said. "This world will never be the same without her. Her smile could light up the world."

Miss Knighten's mother said her faith is keeping her going.

"Through God's grace and mercy," she said.

Miss Knighten's father Willie Knighten, Sr., a pastor at Northwestern Missionary Baptist Church, will handle services for his daughter's funeral.

Her death is the 19th homicide in the Toledo area this year. That's the same number of annual homicides reported in Toledo last year at this time.

Anyone with information on a homicide should call the Crime Stopper program at 419-255-1111.