Ryan Place homicide victim identified, suspect in custody

Police and investigators on the scene at the Ryan’s Place apartment complex on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, following the shooting death of a Kent State freshman. The fourth suspect in the homicide, 17-year-old Anton Planicka, has pleaded not guilty to six felony charges.

Karl Schneider

Kent Police have identified the victim of a homicide Sunday at Ryan Place apartments as 18-year-old Nicholas Massa, a freshman managerial marketing major, according to a press release.

A 17-year-old suspect, Ty Kremling, was apprehended with assistance from the Stow Police Department. Kremling, a resident of Stow, fled the scene Sunday night before police arrived on the scene. He will be arraigned Monday morning for delinquency of aggravated murder at the Portage County Juvenile Court.

Kremling was a student at Stow-Munroe Falls High School, according to a release by the school. Two Stow minors were also questioned about the incident, but not arrested, the release said. 

According to a 911 call Kent Police released Monday morning, three African-Americans wearing bandanas entered the apartment asking for money.

Editor’s Note: This audio contains strong language, and the content could be upsetting to some readers. Listener discretion is advised.

The male caller identified Ty Kremling as one of the people involved. The caller also said some money was stolen from the apartment.

The caller can be heard saying, “Keep breathing, bro. Keep your eyes open,” at the beginning of the call. 

In a second 911 call, a female who said she lives on the floor below said she heard a gunshot and then saw a beat-up green Dodge truck quickly pull out of the apartment complex, traveling eastbound on East Main Street.

She said she saw four men with hooded sweatshirts on enter the vehicle.

Nicole Kotlan, director of the Exploratory Advising Center, taught Massa’s First Year Experience course in Fall 2015. Kotlan said there were about 20 students in the class and Massa had a great demeanor.

“He was a ray of sunshine,” Kotlan said. “You noticed when he came in. He would chime in with his thoughts, and I knew I could call on him to get something going (in class). He was definitely someone who was going places”

University spokesman Eric Mansfield was also present at the press conference.

“(Massa) was full of energy and vitality,” he said. “ We’re hurting today to know someone so young was taken from our campus.”

Kent State released a statement saying there is no threat to the university.

“We’re in the process of determining what we can release about his background as a student,” Mansfield said. “We’re all in mourning that one of our students has been lost.”

Ryan Place apartments is confident that the Kent Police Department has the ability to “investigate this tragedy and continue to protect the city and (its) residences,” according to a press release sent by Kathy Miller, manager of the complex.

“(We) would like to send our condolences to the victim’s family and anyone affected by this isolated incident,” the statement said.

Ryan Place apartments said that if any violations of the lease rules were violated, they will “swiftly deal with it legally.”

Kent Police say the investigation is ongoing.

Kent Police responded to reports of a gunshot at 1632 E. Main St. Apt. 303 in Ryan Place Apartments around 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

Kelli Romero, a sophomore exercise science major who has lived in Ryan Place since August 2015, said she and her roommate heard a gunshot around 4:15 p.m. When she looked out the window, she said she saw three African-American men running to a truck in the parking lot.

“(I) saw a group of guys running across the parking lot,” she said in a Twitter message. “Their getaway truck was parked outside my window. They were screaming, ‘We got to go. Go go go! Get out of here,’ and they drove out the Arby’s parking lot and down Main Street.”

Romero said her roommate called the police, who arrived on the scene shortly after.

Maxwell Eisenloeffel, a sophomore computer science major and resident of Ryan Place, said he lives on the first floor in the building where the police were investigating.

“Two officers came to my door and started asking if we had heard anything,” Eisenloeffel said. “I heard commotion on the third floor…(and) heard (someone) running around.”

Eisenloeffel said he saw pictures of police cars on the mobile app Yik Yak, and thought it looked like his apartment, he said.

A witness who works nearby and wished to be identified only as Ashley said she saw police cars swarm the building after a customer said he heard gunshots.

“One minute (after he said he heard shots), cop cars swarmed the apartment,” Ashley said. “But before that, some guy in, like, a cap ran out of the building. He looked really scared. He was, like, a witness or something because he was talking to the cops (when they showed up).”

Friends have taken to social media to give their condolences.

“Prayers to the Massa family. I can’t believe this is real,” Tyler O’Donnell wrote on Massa’s Facebook page. “It seems like only yesterday Nick and I were in class together and playing baseball. I am here for anyone from the family or friends of Nick to talk to. Again, my respects to Nick and all who knew how good of a dude he was.”

“What a tragic loss,” wrote Emily Johnson. “Nick Massa was going places and sadly his life was lost. Rest in peace.”

Kent Police, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Invesitgation, Portage County Coroner’s office and Portage County Prosecutors Office are investigating.

Follow @kentwired on Twitter for updates.

Contact Karl Schneider at [email protected]. Emily Mills contributed reporting.