Grand Rapids murders up slightly from last year; nine of 12 deaths involved a gun

Grand Rapids murder rate climbs slightly in 2016

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. (WZZM) - As 2016 draws to a close, the city of Grand Rapids is ending the year with an uptick in murders.

As of Thursday, Dec. 29, a dozen murders have been recorded in the city, compared with 10 homicides for all of 2015.

Guns were involved in nine of the slayings; victims include a 26-year-old man shot 19 times with a rifle.

Despite the increase, homicides in Michigan’s second largest city remain relatively low.  The long-term average is about 17 slayings per year. Grand Rapids last reached that number in 2013.

It is nowhere near the 34 murders recorded in 1993; many were related to the growing menace of crack cocaine in the city.

“I think what you see is more violent, younger kids,’’ Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth said. “If I had to pinpoint one thing, you get a lot of teenagers who get involved in gang-related shootings. ‘’

Half of the murders this year occurred on the city’s Southeast Side.

Non-fatal shootings continue to be of concern, Forsyth said. Grand Rapids logged more than a dozen shootings between late September and early November, three of them fatal. The list includes an Oct. 9 shooting at a crowded party at an empty store on 28th Street SE.  One person was killed and eight others wounded. No one has been charged.

“Sometimes it’s a matter of luck,’’ said Forsyth, who retires this week. “It wasn’t for a lack of effort. I mean people shoot at one another and hit one another, but they simply don’t kill them. It wasn’t because they didn’t try.’’

Grand Rapids police have solved or made arrests in eight of the slayings. Two were murder-suicides.  

Here is a look at the city’s dozen murders so far this year:

Dec. 18, 2016: Terrell D. Harberson, 25, fatally shot at a home on Dickinson Street east of Madison Avenue SE. One suspect has been charged, but not for the actual shooting.  

Nov. 6, 2016: Rosemarie Reilly, 21, was fatally shot in what police say was a murder-suicide. They identified the gunman as 21-year-old Jeremy Kelley. It happened on Lake Drive near Robinson Road SE.

Oct. 9, 2016: Juwan Montez Boykin, 21, was fatally shot while attending an after-hours birthday party at a commercial building on 28th Street east of Kalamazoo Avenue SE. Eight others were wounded. The murder remains unsolved.

Sept. 26, 2016:  Joseph Charles Banks, 38, was fatally shot at a home on Eastern Avenue near Oakdale Street SE. A teen was critically wounded.  A suspect has been charged in the slaying.

Sept. 14, 2016: Brice Carrington Jackson, 27, was shot in an alley between Dorchester and Norwich avenues SW in the Black Hills neighborhood. He died at an area hospital. The murder remains unsolved.

Aug. 22, 2016: Kenneth R. Kirkwood, 39, was fatally shot outside a home on College Avenue north of Dickinson Street SE in an apparent robbery. He and another man were working on the home when the shooting took place. The murder remains unsolved.

Aug. 18, 2016: McKenna Elizabeth Hilton, 18. Police say she was strangled in an apartment on Plaza Drive NE. Her body was found less than a mile away in Grand Rapids Township. Her half-brother, now 17, has been charged in the murder.

August 1, 2016: Scott David Morton, 40, was found fatally stabbed inside The Globe Apartments on Commerce Avenue north of Goodrich Street SW. Police say his death stems from a domestic dispute. An arrest was made.

May 25, 2016: Mark Alan Toliver II, 27, was shot while sitting outside his home on Dickinson Street west of Lafayette Avenue SE. The murder remains unsolved.

April 30, 2016: Jeanne Huntoon, 34, was found beaten and fatally stabbed next to a Grand Rapids Community College parking ramp on Bostwick Avenue NE. A 19-year-old man has been charged with her murder.

March 25, 2016: Diana DeYoung, 65, was found fatally shot inside an apartment at Campau Commons on Franklin Street SW, in an apparent murder-suicide. Police identified the gunman as Roberto Alfaro, 60.

March 10, 2016: Stroy Pittman, 26, was fatally shot inside a unit at Alger Meadows Apartments at Ottillia Street and Nelson Avenue SE. The accused gunman was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

© 2017 WZZM-TV


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