ELYRIA — The words of Pastor Carl Small spoken Sunday, hours before a 48-year-old father of 11 was killed in Elyria, are serving as motivation for a prayer vigil set for today honoring the man.
The Rev. Mark Taylor, associate minister of Elyria’s Second Baptist Church, said he heard the words of his senior pastor hours before Anthony “Tony” Coats was shot in a car on Tattersal Court, not knowing that their meaning would soon take on more significance.
“Pastor Small talked about how the community has to quit just allowing things to happen and doing nothing about it,” Taylor said. “We are doing this to say as a community we will not stand for the senseless death of another. This is going back to our roots as a community and saturating each other with love and prayer.”
Residents are asked to gather at 6 p.m. in the parking lot of Mount Zion Baptist Church, 614 West River Road N. The crowd will then walk in unity to the nearby scene of the crime for a short prayer vigil.
Taylor, Small, community members and the Elyria NAACP are organizing the vigil.
“We don’t want killings, shootings and violence in our community,” Elyria NAACP President Betty Moody White said. “The loss of one life is one too many, but we have had two lives lost in our one week in our community.”
On Thursday, Lauren Moore, 26, was found in the Washington Avenue apartment she shared with her boyfriend, Vernon Shallenberger.
Shallenberger, 27, has been charged with murder.
Domestic violence is being blamed in Moore’s death, police Capt. Chris Costantino said police don’t have a motive for Coats’ killing.
Suspected shooter Tove Adams — who is also a registered sex offender — was arrested Monday afternoon. Adams, 42, has been charged with murder and felonious assault.
Costantino said Coats was shot after dropping off a female friend in the area. Costantino said investigators are working on the case but need information from the public to find a motive.
“I’m not in a position to say why this may have happened, but this was not a random act,” Costantino said. “These are two people who knew each other.”
After Coats was shot in front of 1 Tattersal Court, he drove about a block on West River Road North before crashing at West River and Lake Avenue. Recordings from a 911 call captured the chaos as frantic residents rushed to help a dying Coats inside the car.
“We need an ambulance. We don’t know if he’s alive,” a caller told a dispatcher. “Stay alive, man!”
Coats had attended one of his sons’ graduation from Elyria High School hours before being killed. Taylor said Coats’ family — including a fiancee, eight biological children and two stepchildren — are numb over the loss.
“One moment he was celebrating his son’s high school graduation, and the next, he was just gone,” he said. “They really don’t know where to turn.”
The family hopes the public will help pay funeral costs. Taylor said a bank account hasn’t been set up yet, but an offering will be taken at the vigil.
Reporter Evan Goodenow contributed to this story.
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.