GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A suspect is in custody as police continue to investigate the downtown shooting that left one dead and three injured early Sunday morning, Grand Rapids’ police chief said.
The shooting happened around 12:15 am on Pearl Street NW between Monroe and Ottawa avenues.
A group of people was downtown, possibly selling items like T-shirts out of a truck, Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom told News 8 on Monday. A wedding party was leaving a bar and the two groups ran into each other.
“As it turns out these two groups—neither one of them from Grand Rapids—coincidentally had known each other, I believe for years, and had a family feud,” Winstrom told News 8.
A physical fight started and someone went to their truck to get two handguns and began firing, Wisntrom said.
one-man, identified by his family as 25-year-old Armonie Acklin, died at the scene.
Three others were injured. Winstrom said those three people are expected to make a full recovery.
He said no one outside of those two groups was hit.
“It is two groups of people who knew each other,” Winstrom said. “We didn’t see any danger to the community, it was not a random shooting.”
The shooter was taken into custody, Winstrom said. That person’s name has not been released.
CITY LEADERS WORK TO MAKE DOWNTOWN SAFE
Winstrom said he believes downtown Grand Rapids is still a safe location.
“These incidents that have occurred in downtown, we respond to them, we seek justice for the victims and we do what we can,” he said. “We pride ourselves on providing a safe environment for downtown. I bring my own family downtown, I believe it is safe downtown. And we as a police department and as a city, we’re going to do everything we can do make sure downtown is a safe place to visit.”
The chief said GRPD has added patrols in downtown to have high visibility.
“We’ve had complaints that there’s been an uptick in activity in the area where this murder took place, so we’ve asked for increased surveillance cameras, increased lighting,” he said.
This weekend’s shooting isn’t the only recent violence in downtown. We May 24, a man was shot and killed on Cherry Street near Division Avenue. Another man died after being beaten on Sep 5, 2021near Monroe Avenue and West Fulton Street.
Downtown Grand Rapids business owners were saddened by the news of the deadly shooting. They said while shootings are not common, they are supporting efforts to improve security and reassess public safety.
Alex Walters, the general manager of Freshii near the intersection of Pearl Street and Monroe Center, said he was shocked.
“It’s definitely a surprise for me to hear,” Walters said. “Rarely do I hear anything like that happening. Specifically right next to our business. I definitely was kind of shocked to see that it was so close. Thankfully we were closed at that time.”
The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce says business and city leaders have been talking about ways to better prevent and respond to crime downtown.
“We’re aware of not just the city, not just the region but across the country. A lot of communities are dealing with increased violence,” said Joshua Lunger, the vice president of government affairs for the Chamber of Commerce. “People are looking at more private security. Our organization for the last year has been on record trying to get more public safety resources specifically for the downtown but for the community as a whole. … I want to say this highlights further the need.”
The Chamber says the city and businesses are also looking at ways to discourage crime.
“So what kind of decisions can we make whether it’s lighting, whether it’s how transparent glass is in a certain area to make an environment that is just safer by its nature,” Lunger said.
Businesses like Freshii are encouraged by the conversations about security.
“The rate of crimes downtown maybe have gone up a little bit that I’ve noticed, so it seems like definitely putting some more focus on this downtown area specifically would be a good idea,” Walters said.
The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce talked to many city leaders Monday about ways to better prevent and respond to crime downtown.
Winstrom said it’s common to see violence rates go up as the weather starts to warm.
“Nationally you’ll see, especially in the northern cities … there’s always a spike of violence in the summer. I would hesitate to say this is something we can expect for the summer, we should never be complacent, we should never be accepting of this sort of lack of respect for human life,” he said.
He said crowds returning to downtown will also help.
“Post-COVID, it looks like your friends and your neighbors walking downtown around the city. It’s just having … good people being present, being out, seeing people sitting at these restaurants outside and going to different events, like we had Festival this weekend,” Winstrom said. “So just getting back to that normalcy and when you see that presence that’s just a natural deterrent of crime in general.”
“All life is precious,” he said, when asked what his message is for people conflicting the violence on the community. “Put the guns down.”