'It's Just a Joke,' Teen Said Before Fatal Beating

Ethan Liming of Akron, Ohio, died June 2 in fight outside school
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2022 1:03 PM CDT
'It's Just a Joke,' Teen Said Before Fatal Beating
A SplatRBall toy.   (Akron Police Department)

A set of parents in Akron, Ohio, are pleading for answers after their 17-year-old son was beaten to death near an elementary school basketball court. On the night of June 2, Ethan Liming and friends were driving around Akron, firing a toy SplatRBall gun that shoots tiny water beads that explode on impact at "objects and possibly unsuspecting people," according to a police statement. Then they arrived at the I Promise School in Akron, where they found four males playing basketball. According to WKYC, two members of Ethan's group began firing the toy gun, which triggered a physical altercation.

Ethan's father, Bill Liming, tells WEWS that his son was still inside the vehicle when the confrontation erupted. He "was trying to tell people, 'It's relaxed. It's just a joke. It's a joke.' And the individuals didn't like that." He described the subsequent assault on Ethan as three against one. At some point, the 17-year-old was knocked to the ground. "We believe that he was unresponsive, and then he was further injured," a police official tells WKYC. The assailants then prevented Ethan's friends from carrying him into the vehicle, Bill Liming tells WEWS. After a 911 call, police and paramedics arrived at the scene around 10:45pm. Ethan was pronounced dead 20 minutes later, per the Akron Beacon Journal. The cause was blunt force trauma to the head, per WJW.

"He did not deserve to die like that. It's just unfathomable," mother Jennifer Liming tells WEWS of the senior and athlete at Firestone Community Learning Center. "I just hope that somebody knows something [and] they speak up." Surveillance cameras "did not clearly capture the attack or images of the suspect," per WEWS. At a Wednesday press conference, however, Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett said investigators have "viable leads into the individuals that may have been involved," per WKYC. Summit County CrimeStoppers is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information. (Read more homicide stories.)

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