The father of a teen who was beaten to death near basketball courts at the LeBron James Foundation’s I PROMISE School is speaking out about the school’s security after the school assured the public that the school is safe.

“It’s not safe. It’s not secure,” said Bill Liming, father of now-deceased 17-year-old Ethan Liming. “The cameras are grossly insufficient. I mean, grossly insufficient for security.”

The school disagrees with that characterization.

“Our community is everything to us,” the school said the day after the alleged murder. “We were devastated to learn of the overnight incident that saw a life lost near our school. We are grieving with our community over another senseless act of violence.”

“Our [I PROMISE] campus is safe and secure as we continue to do everything we can to support our students, families, and the entire Akron community,” it said.

The younger Liming died from blunt force trauma to his head after he was beaten by three men in the parking lot at James’ I PROMISE school on June 2.

According to reports, Liming and two friends were “participating in some sort of horseplay,” which may have involved a water gun, when they pulled into the parking lot of the school.

The exact sequence of events that lead to the deadly beating remain unknown, but Liming and his friends were engaged in a fight with the three men, Donovon Jones, 21, DeShawn Stafford Jr., 20, and Tyler Stafford, 19, all of whom have now been arrested and charged with murder and felonious assault. They are being held on one million dollar bond.

Police have described what they believe happened, but have not gone into specific details.

“We were told that the males on the basketball court were playing basketball recreationally, so not seemingly bothering anyone at least at that point,” Akron Police Department (APD) Public Information Office Lt. Michael Miller said. “The victim and/or the group that was with him – there was a total of four inside the vehicle that they arrived in. And again, whether the suspect half-approached the car or members inside the car got out, but we do know in short order that … a fight ensued. And during that fight, the victim was grounded – knocked to the ground – and then those significant injuries, et cetera, happened.”

An attorney for Stafford spoke Monday.

“Shawn was up there playing basketball with his brother and his cousin,” Jonathan Sinn said. “He is 5-foot-5, 130 pounds, and it was just the three of them on the court playing when a carload of kids, a carload of teenagers … pulled into the lot. At that point they opened their windows and opened fire with, what at the time seemed to be a fully automatic firearm.”

“After these boys were sprayed with the firearm, then the boys from the other vehicle got out, chased them onto the court, assaulted them and a fight did ensue where my client is alleged to have defended himself,” Sinn said.

Jennifer Liming says her son was a “good boy.”

“What happened to him?” she asked. “He did not deserve to die like that. It’s just unfathomable. Every day – wake up and can’t believe it’s real. I can’t believe it happened to him.”

James has not commented publicly on the matter.

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Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “I Promise School” by Cards84664. CC BY-SA 4.0.