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GRPD and Homeless Outreach Team collaborate after killing of 46-year-old man

For those deciding not to go to a shelter, Sgt. John Wittkowski and the Homeless Outreach Team suggest they use the buddy system.
Credit: Jacob Feuerstein, WZZM

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) is collaborating with the Major Case Team to protect homeless people in Grand Rapids, and find answers for the killing of a man found dead Thursday morning.

The Kent County Medical Examiner ruled the death of Santino "Taco" Ysasi, 46, a homicide, but did not share how he died.

To help raise awareness about the dangers homeless people face in the city, the GRPD's Sgt. John Wittkowski says, "We have been working with our community partners, including area shelters and the network of resource providers, to get the word out to encourage our unsheltered community to take safety precautions."

Wittkowski does understand that some of the homeless population don't want to find shelter. He says he and HOT are suggesting the buddy system for a compromise.

"It’s an old saying, but it’s true – there is safety in numbers.”

As the Major Case Team continues to investigate Ysasi's homicide, police ask that anyone with information contact GRPD detectives at 616-456-3380. 

Tips can also be sent anonymously through Silent Observer at 616-774-2345 or www.silentobserver.org.

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