Slain musician Tolson mourned at Detroit vigil
Detroit — One more candlelight vigil. One more grieving family. One more Detroit homicide.
Anthony Tolson, a 33-year-old musician, was the city’s 291st casualty in 2015. He was honored Sunday by about 200 mourners who crammed together in the Gratiot and Fairmont Liquor store parking lot on the east side, where police say two men attacked Tolson about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, fatally shooting him before driving off with his Chevy TrailBlazer.
“We’re tired of resting in peace,” said Pastor Maurice “Mo” Hardwick of the Live in Peace Movement. “We want to live in peace. There’s a death angel over this city flapping his wings.”
Tolson, who toured nationally with acts including Ne-Yo and Young Jeezy, had just finished playing bass guitar in the Central Baptist Church Christmas Eve service, and relatives said he was on his way to his mother’s house, where he planned to spend the night and open presents with his three children, William, 7, Aaron, 12, and Amber, 13, the next morning.
“They took a father away from these kids,” said Douglas Tolson, the victim’s younger brother. “It’s just not right.”
Tolson’s friends and family gathered Sunday to light candles, hug and share memories, joining ministers and community activists and others who expressed outrage at having to attend yet another candlelight vigil.
Anthony Tolson, a 33-year-old musician, was honored Sunday by about 200 mourners in a Liquor store parking lot on Detroit's east side, where police say two men fatally shot him and stole his vehicle on Christmas Eve.
The city is on pace to end the year with 300 homicides, the same as last year, and the lowest since 1967. But police officials and residents agree: It’s still too many.
“We’re trending in the right direction, but our work is nowhere near done,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said.
At a press conference Monday morning, Craig said police are asking for the community's help to identify the suspects seen in the surveillance video from the site of the shooting.
One suspect, Craig noted, the one wearing a light top, "has a distinctive gait" that police believe will be key in identifying and locating the man.
"He is not an unknown," Craig said. "We are asking for the public's help."
Police say two men attacked Anthony Tolson about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, fatally shooting him before driving off with his Chevy TrailBlazer.
Police on Sunday recovered an SUV, which had been set on fire, although Detroit police Sgt. Cassandra Lewis said investigators were still working to determine if it belonged to Tolson.
“The Christmas presents were still in the vehicle,” Tolson’s friend and fellow musician Eric Gaston said.
During Sunday’s memorial, members of the crowd shouted, “We’re tired of this,” “We need to take back our neighborhoods” and “We’re not going to take it anymore.”
A microphone was passed among clergy, relatives and friends, many of whom broke down sobbing.
“Keep up the laughter because that’s what Anthony was about,” said musician Derrick Sorell, who called Tolson “the life of the party ... the ultimate musician,” before bursting into tears.
“I was there that night,” Darnell Carter said. “I was holding onto the brother as he took his last breath. To the family, I don’t know if it’s consolation, but I laid hands on him as he took his last breath. Maybe that helped him on his journey.”
At one point during the memorial, as Hardwick bemoaned the “don’t snitch” culture in Detroit, he halted his speech and addressed men who had sidled up to the crowd in a cloud of marijuana smoke that was palpable to mourners.
“You can have your party later,” Hardwick said. “We’ll be gone soon. But until then, can you have some respect? If you’re smoking a blunt, we ask that you put it out.”
Police released surveillance video showing two suspects exiting a silver SUV and walking to the liquor store. Anyone with information is asked to call the Detroit Police Homicide Section at (313) 596-2260.
Local religious leaders held a Monday morning press conference at Tolson’s church, Central Baptist, at 15170 Archdale. Afterward, Minister Malik Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party/Marcus Garvey Movement planned to lead a group of residents door-to-door near the crime scene, asking for information about the killing.
A fund for Tolson’s children has been set up at gofundme.com.
James Dickson contributed.