GR Police Chief Kevin Belk - Friday morning - Photo from Sarah Sell
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., (WZZM) - The past month has been a violent one in the city of Grand Rapids. On Friday, the community came together to try to stop the crime.
There have been eight homicides within the past month. One of them was a double-murder-suicide at a counseling center. The most recent death involved a 18-year old man who shot as he answered his door, a crime police say was gang related.
"I feel like I have a connection. I've been there. At those ages, I was one of those criminals," says Tahj Gillespie. The former felon now runs a non-profit group called Life Connection. He was one of many community members who came together at the Grand Rapids Police Department Friday. "The situation with me came from a dysfunctional home. You look for peers to be your family."
The group of community leaders, pastors and police agreed that many of the problems with drugs and violence start at home. Dr. Jermone Glenn says, "We know that there are contributing factors to these crimes. Breakdown of family, lack of education, lack of economic opportunities, mental health, just to name a few."
The Grand Rapids Police Department says it's committed to solving the recent crimes and to doing what it can to stop the violence. "We are committed to resolving these cases. This is our highest priority and will continue to be. We have added resources and will continue to try to bring those responsible to justice."
But, besides more police presence, the group wants to know how to stop the problem before it starts. It's holding a meeting at 8 a.m. on Friday, January 18 at Messiah Missionary Baptist Church. The public is encouraged to attend.