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Photos by Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Ryann “Woo” Trejo was gunned down on Huron Street on May 28, leaving many residents shaken by their neighbor’s death. The graffiti is on Mechanic Street nearby.

An illusion of safety shattered

Jacob Barney, shown at his recent high school graduation party, talks about playing basketball with Trejo, who lived nearby.

Natalie Sheron works nights at McDonald’s. When her shift is done, she drives home in the dark to Huron Street, to a house she has lived in for 25 years.

These days after work, the 63-year-old pauses and thinks about what happened last month right across the street.

“There isn’t a single night that I don’t look over there and dwell on it,” she said. “I’m going through a real post-traumatic-stress thing with it playing on my mind all the time.”

Late at night on May 28, the sound of several gunshots reverberated through Sheron’s neighborhood, which lies along a horseshoe bend in the St. Marys River near downtown, off West Main Street. The sound shook the modest, aging houses that sit close together on narrow, tree-lined streets.

“I had just got out of the tub, and all I had on was underpants. I put a towel over me and went straight to the door. And my husband said, ‘Don’t do it,’ but I didn’t care. I wanted to know what’s going on. My cat was out,” she said.

When Sheron first looked outside, she didn’t see that her neighbor, Ryann “Woo” Trejo, was lying in the street, bleeding. Police showed up and learned that Trejo, 32, had been fatally shot as he left his house at 1315 Huron St. His killer has not been caught.

Investigators haven’t said what prompted the shooting. But for neighbors, the motive isn’t the point. It’s the shooting itself – the sudden violence so close to home, in a working-class neighborhood where homicides were unheard of.

The deadly shots have been echoing through the thoughts of neighbors, raising questions about their personal safety: Should we sit on the porch and enjoy the evening? Should we let our kids play outside after dark? Should we move?

Savannah Parson and her fiancé are raising a 5-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy in a duplex a couple of doors down from Sheron. Parson said the gunshots that night woke her kids and frightened them. Her son was mostly oblivious to what took place, but her daughter figured out that someone was shot.

“My daughter still doesn’t sleep in her room. She sleeps in the living room now,” the 22-year-old mother said. “She was scared of the thunderstorms last night. She thought someone was getting shot again.”

Parson and her fiancé are considering a move, but they don’t know where they’ll find an affordable refuge from the shootings. “It’s hard to find a place where they’re not at,” she said.

Parson has lived on Huron Street since December, and the shooting has done much to color her perception of the neighborhood. If you ask other residents, they’ll say it’s usually a safe place.

“We don’t have gunfights,” Jacob Barney said. “We don’t even really have fights.”

Barney, 18, lives around the corner from the site of the shooting. He knew Trejo from playing pickup basketball on the neighborhood court in Camp Allen Park.

“It was kind of heartbreaking when we found out it was Woo,” Barney said. “I’m going to miss him.”

aingersoll@jg.net

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