Family still grappling with auto shop owner’s deathWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Two weeks after Toledo business owner Ricky Arnaz Layson was fatally shot during a robbery at his auto sales shop, his family is still struggling to come to terms with his death.
The father of three was an “all-around good guy” who loved cars and his family, two of his brothers said.
Layson, 35, was shot twice in the chest on July 8 by an armed robber at R&D Auto Sales on Lewis Avenue. He made it to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, but died in surgery.
“He was just an all-around good guy who tried to help people,” his brother and business partner Donnell Wynn, 33, said. “A good brother, dad, uncle, cousin, friend, son. So many people called on him for things. Advice. Favors. Just whatever.”
The pair opened the shop in 2007 after Wynn returned from the military.
“Rick always messed around with cars. He had a passion from a young age,” Wynn said. “Not having no money, young and growing up poor, he finally got a car but couldn’t afford nobody to work on it. He always did a little work to his own car and eventually it became something he was getting good at. Whatever was wrong with it, he tried to fix it.”
After graduating from Waite High School in 1998, Layson worked at Arby’s and Norfolk Southern Railway before going into business for himself. He scoured auctions for cars and then fixed them up to sell.
“Monday through Saturday, he would be sitting at the desk, maybe watching cars out front, or talking to a mechanic trying to figure something out,” Wynn said. “We don’t advertise our business. Just by word of mouth pretty much we sell our cars.”
‘Someone shot me’
On July 8, Layson was at the shop alone. A mechanic had just left to pick up some parts and a notary had just left to pick up some titles. Wynn was on his way to the shop when he got a call from Layson.
“He said, ‘Someone shot me,’” Wynn said.
“I asked him where he was hit. He said, ‘I don’t know.’ I hung up the phone and called 911, then hung up on 911 and called him back. Shortly after he answered, a police officer started asking him questions. I don’t know what he said. It was like a blur.”
According to a police report and documents filed with Toledo Municipal Court, a black male armed with a handgun entered the shop around 11:25 a.m. July 8, confronted Layson and the two exchanged words. The man then backed away from Layson and fired at least two shots from the handgun, striking Layson twice in the chest, and fled the business carrying what appeared to be a soft-sided computer case.
When police arrived, Layson was lying on the floor talking to Wynn on the phone, which was next to him. By the time Wynn pulled up, Layson had already been loaded into an ambulance. Wynn followed it to the hospital and got to see Layson one more time before he went to surgery, but couldn’t talk to him.
Layson’s brother Raymond Grier, 38, recalls seeing news stories on Facebook about a shooting, but didn’t click the links. Later that day, his mom called him.
“She asked me, ‘Doesn’t your brother have a car lot over on Laskey and Lewis? That’s where that shooting was at,’” Grier said. “After she told me that, I was just calling and calling and calling him and not getting no answer. Probably about an hour later, I looked on Facebook and saw someone say, ‘RIH Ricky.’ I broke down. I drove to the car lot and sat out there. It was a sad moment.”
Wynn is Layson’s half-brother and Grier is Layson’s stepbrother but Grier said they never made those kinds of distinctions.
“We never used the word ‘stepbrothers.’ That’s just my brother,” Grier said.
Grier last saw Layson about two weeks before he died. He stopped into the shop one day just to visit.
“He was just a fun person to be around and an easy person to talk to,” Grier said. “There’s not a better person you could want as a brother, as a friend. He just tried to give the best advice he can. He was a good person to talk to. That’s what me and him did a lot. Just talk.”
Layson and his fiancée had two teenage daughters. He also adopted one of his brothers after their mom died, Wynn said. He is also survived by his father, grandmother and siblings.
When Layson’s mother died in 2007, he took in four of his siblings plus a grandchild she was raising, adopting one of them, Ricardo Smith, Wynn said.
“He didn’t have a son, but that was kind of like his son,” Wynn said.
Layson would regularly drive to Findlay to watch Smith, a Whitmer High School graduate, play basketball for the University of Findlay, Wynn said.
“He didn’t have to bring his brothers and sisters into his home,” Wynn said. “But he was really involved.”
Layson also stayed busy taking his daughters to their track meets and softball games and helped coach one of their softball teams.
“He was just really involved with his kids’ sports,” Wynn said. “That was pretty much everything for him. It was either work or kids.”
Wynn has been at the shop every day since the shooting, cleaning up and getting things in order. He’s not sure if the business can stay open without Layson, or if he wants to try.
But Wynn said the biggest thing Layson taught him was not to give up.
“Don’t ever give up. Just keep going. Keep pushing. No matter what happens, no matter what the storm brings, keep pushing,” Wynn said.
“He cared about people and where they came from. Maybe they might not be the best to you, but you don’t treat them wrong because they treat you wrong. He taught me to just be fair.”
Before he died, Layson told police he didn’t know the man who shot him.
Terry Hayes, 48, was identified through surveillance video. He was later arrested and charged with aggravated robbery and aggravated murder. He pleaded not guilty to both charges during an arraignment at Lucas County Court of Common Pleas on July 22. A pretrial hearing is set for September.
Grier said it’s been difficult to process the loss.
“Rick was just an all-around good person,” Grier said. “He cared about making sure he provided for his family. He made sure everything got done. Having it kind of hard growing up, he just wanted to be that provider. He was a good man, period.
“I just want it to be known that he was a good person, a good man, a good husband, a good father,” Grier said. “I just want people to know that.”