GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The one year anniversary of the worst shooting spree in Grand Rapids history is being remembered quietly today.
There are no known public events scheduled to mark the day seven people died at the hands of Rodrick Dantzler .
It was July 7, 2011 when Dantzler shot and killed seven people before going on a high speed chase and then taking hostages. The killing spree left many in West Michigan in fear. The night ended with Dantzler taking his own life.
On Friday, 24 Hour News 8 spoke with Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell on how the tragedy affected the community and how it changed the city.
"I want to point to the acts of heroism on the part of our Grand Rapids police officers, the amazing things they did that literally saved lives during that incident," Heartwell told 24 Hour News 8 Friday. "I want to remember the compassion of the people of our city, of the outpouring of love and concern from the families that were involved in this awful thing, and the way we rallied as a people. You know, to say this happened here, you can't deny it, but that doesn't define us. It's not who we are as a people in this city, in this part of the state.
"So a year has passed. Are we different? I think somehow we are, and it took some of the perhaps naïveté out of those who were wildly optimistic. On the other hand, it was a powerful reminder of the goodness that exists here in this part of our state."
On July 7th, 2011 , Dantzler killed his estanged wife, Jennifer Heeren, and their 12-year-old daughter, Kamrie, and Heeren's parents, Thomas and Rebecca Heeren, at the family's home on Brynell Court NE.
Later that day , it was discovered that Dantzler had also killed ex-girlfriend Kimberlee Emkens, her sister, Amanda Emkens and Amanda's 10-year-old daughter, Marrisa, at a home on Plainfield Avenue NE.
Later that evening, Dantzler was following a friend of his, April Swanson , in a SUV. This led to a chase with various police agencies.
The chase moved into the heart of downtown Grand Rapids . As police closed in, and one rammed the SUV with Dantzler inside, gunfire erupted. Police said four officers traded shots with Dantzler during the 12-minute chase before Dantzler abandoned the SUV and ran to a home and held three people hostage.
Four hours after taking three hostages and with SWAT team members inside the home, Dantzler took his life with a single, self-inflicted gunshot. None of the hostages was hurt .
In the spring of 2012, the Northern Little League dedicated their tee-ball and softball field at Riverside Park to the memory of Marissa Emkens .