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Former Toledo resident missing after suspected kidnapping at gunpoint in Washington

  • n4barber-jpg

    Blendz Barbershop co-owner Cameron Smith, left, with readers at a youth event in his Toledo barbershop on February 6, 2006. Smith was kidnapped Sunday in Cheney, Wash., and has yet to be found.

    BLADE FILE

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    Cheney Police Department released this photo Donavon Culps of who was involved of carjacking and kidnapping of former Toledo resident Cameron Smith. Smith was a longtime barber in Toledo who moved to Washington last year.

    COURTESY

CHENEY, WASH. — A Toledo native was the victim of what authorities are describing as an unsolved armed kidnapping at a cannabis shop.

Investigators are still looking for Cameron Smith, 46, and three suspects involved in the Sunday afternoon kidnapping.

Mr. Smith sat in his car during his lunch break as two of the suspects — identified by the Cheney Police Department as Donovan Culps, 36, and Violetta Culps, 18, — tried entering the store unsuccessfully three times. Store owner Dennis Turner said Ms. Culps presented an invalid ID and Mr. Culps attempted to enter the marijuana shop without one at all.

Mr. Turner said Mr. Smith grew suspicious of the activity and shared a verbal exchange with Mr. Culps.

Mr. Culps then fired two gunshots at Mr. Smith’s vehicle, police said. The suspects entered Mr. Smith’s SUV, took the wheel, and sped away.

“Cam was just being Cam — a protective overseer,” Mr. Turner said. “It’s senseless violence.”

Mr. Smith left Toledo last July to work with Mr. Turner, a childhood friend who called Mr. Smith his older brother by “every account but blood.” Mr. Turner said 125 people attended a candlelight vigil outside of the cannabis shop Monday evening, and attendees signed a book to be sent to Mr. Smith’s family still in Toledo.

“Cam developed a hell of a repertoire here… His impact in Toledo is just as big as it is here [in Cheney],” Mr. Turner said. “He has a welcoming charisma. The dude never has a bad day.”

The Cheney Police Department released the Culps’ names Tuesday. Both are believed to be residents of Yakima, Wash., located about three hours from Cheney. The third suspect has not been identified. Police do not believe Mr. Smith had prior connections to the suspects.

Cheney police spokesman Cathy Munoz said officials located Smith’s vacant vehicle Tuesday at 1:15 p.m. They found his Acura SUV abandoned at a field in Airway Heights, a city located 13 miles away from Cheney. Officials also found Smith’s wallet on the Spokane Indian Reservation Monday.

“People adore him,” Mr. Turner said. “Now everybody wants to see him come home.”

Contact Jimmy Miller at jmiller@theblade.com, or on Twitter @miller_jimmy.

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