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'I wasn't thinking about the gunfire. I was worried about saving him.' | GRPD officer recalls helping gunshot victims

Four people were shot early in the morning on July 17th on Cesar Chavez Avenue near Oakes Street.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Police Department released bodycam video showing their response to a shooting in the city's Heartside neighborhood.

Four people were shot early in the morning on July 17 on Cesar Chavez Avenue near Oakes Street. Among them was a father of two young children. The video, which some might find disturbing, captures gunfire, and shows officers helping transport victims to the hospital.

Officer Andrew Smith, 24, is humble about the situation. He's sharing the spotlight with his fellow officers and says there were more than two officers who were heroic that night.

In the body cam video, 20 to 30 gunshots can be heard. Smith was just around the corner typing up a report when he heard the gunfire and drove to the scene with his partner, Officer Laura Saxton. He and Saxton found a woman who had been shot in the leg.

"I was trying to cover her, making sure she didn't get injured or hurt while she was occupied getting aid," said Smith.

They were able to put that woman in an ambulance, but their mission to save lives wasn't over. A sedan pulled up to the scene with a man who had been shot in the head. He was in the backseat and collapsed onto the ground.

While under gunfire, the officers pulled the man to a safe place. It's unknown if the suspect or suspects were trying to shoot at the officers or someone else.

"Me and my partner made the decision to put the victim in the backseat and go to the hospital with him," said Smith. "We thought this was his best chance of survival and he wasn't going to last much longer without that higher level of care." 

Chief Eric Winstrom says Officer Smith and Saxton undoubtedly saved this young man's life. 

Looking back on the situation, Smith says he has a great a sense of pride.

"Pride not only in what we were not only able to do for him but pride in my partners who were going to address the sounds of gunfire," said Smith. "They were going into the unknown and didn't know what was going to happen so the bravery they showed also I'm very proud of them.' 

Smith says being a police officer is risky but this is what they sign up for. From Comstock Park, he knew he wanted to join GRPD at a young age because he wanted to help people. He was an Explorer, an intern, and then became an officer in 2021. He has been with the department for less than a year.

The man's mother says he is doing "a lot better" after fighting for his life in the ICU. She adds that she would "like to thank officer Andrew Smith and Laura Saxton for saving my son's life."


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