Devin Page Jr. was asleep in his bed in his own mother’s house when one stray bullet came through his bedroom’s window.
Devin was shot in the head and that one bullet killed the 3-yr-old. It was a drive-by shooting with dozens of bullets meant for the next door neighbors, but one bullet went to the wrong home. It happened on April 12, 2022 around 11:45pm in the 5100 block of Fairfields Ave.
“It was the worst thing you could ever think of, times 10,” said Devin’s grandmother Cathy Toliver.
It’s a pain Devin’s mother Tye Toliver & grandmother Cathy Toliver are learning is a harsh reality they now have to live with. However, both say Devin did not have to die.
“We still believe till this day, had she been gone, had the owner allowed her out of the lease, the baby would still be alive today,” said Cathy Toliver.
It’s why Toliver is now working with the East Baton Rouge Metro Council & parish attorneys in hopes of getting a parish wide ordinance first & then a statewide law to prevent others from being forced to live in a residence just because they’re locked into a lease.
“My daughter was reaching out to the owner & managing company all of this time, all of this time. She’s been reaching out and you guys did not help her,” said Cathy Toliver.
Tye Toliver was in a two-year lease renting 5119 Fairfields Ave. in Baton Rouge. It’s where she lived with her three children, including 3-yr-old Devin. Between Feb. and April 11th, Tye said she went to her managing company and the property owner four times begging to be let out of the lease because of the crime directly next door to her home.
The Tolivers said between Feb. & April 11th, both mother and grandmother requested the owner & managing company let Toliver out of her lease on four different occasions.
“The first time, the neighbors were fighting so she went to the landlord & said, ‘There’s a problem here. The neighbors are fighting constantly and I don’t think it’s safe’. When she did that, they told her you signed a lease & there’s nothing we can do. The second time, they were sitting on the porch with guns & they were fighting again so my daughter went back to the landlord. This time, the management company said to her, ‘The owner is rich. He lives in a beach house. He doesn’t care about you all’. Instead, what they told her was to go get some cameras,” said Cathy Toliver.
That’s when she decided to call the managing company herself, but they repeated the same thing to her that she couldn’t get out of her lease.
“The third time, there was a shooting next door and so my daughter calls back again and said, ‘They’re shooting over here.’ They once again said they can’t do anything. The fourth time, the drive-by happened. That was April 11th. My daughter called me screaming, ‘Momma, they’re shooting, a drive-by shooting again’,” said Cathy Toliver.
This time, Toliver got video of the incident and took it to the management company again. The managing company called my daughter that the owner said, ‘We can go ahead and move you but it’ll take some time because we have to find where we move you,’ not let her out of the lease but move her. Later that night at 11:45pm, here comes all that shooting & that bullet, it was too late. They were shooting next door,” said Cathy Toliver.
It’s why she wants to push for a statewide law and name it after her grandson.
“Devin is my grandson’s name so Devin’s Law. I want his life to be purposeful. Anyone who’s in a situation when it comes to rent or lease, any type of lease, any binding lease and your life is in danger, we want you to be released out of that lease without penalty,” said Cathy Toliver.
But it’s too late for the legislative session in 2022. She will now have to wait till 2023. It’s why Toliver plans to start with the Metro Council. She has a meeting on Wednesday, May 25th with the parish attorneys & some council members to start doing some homework on coming up with a parish-wide ordinance first.
“I will start local, then go state-wide and then go national,” said Cathy Toliver.
She’s also asking for other people’s help. Anyone in similar situations where your safety in on the line but the property’s owner will not let you out of your lease, Cathy Toliver wants to hear from you. You can email her at Cathytoliver57@yahoo.com