GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A 21-year-old man who was involved in a fight with a group of people near a Grand Rapids bar before he died was the "most innocent person" in the situation, Grand Rapids Police Lt. Pat Merrill said.
The incident began just after 1 a.m. Saturday when officers were called to The B.O.B. at 20 Monroe Ave. NW, on reports of a possible fight or assault in the parking lot.
Gregory William Barker, his friend and their girlfriends were walking outside the building when two party buses dropped off a group of people, Merrill told 24 Hour News 8.
Some of the women who came off the bus began taunting Barker's girlfriend and his friend's girlfriend, and the groups got into a verbal altercation, Merrill said.
Barker's friend threw the first punch, believing he was about to get hit, Merrill said. That's when the group from the party bus started chasing Barker and his friend, catching up to them in the parking lot.
"[Barker] had absolutely no interest in being engaged in conflict in any way," Merrill said. "He's trying to get his friend out a couple of times. He wants to leave the scenario."
Instead, about a dozen people ended up in a pile.
"It was really just more a trampling scrum situation, dogpile, not so many assaults, punches, kicks stuff like that, as much as it was a melee little group," Merrill said.
After about 20 seconds, The B.O.B. security was able to break up the groups, and everyone left, police said.
Several hours later, officers were called to the Barker's home in Cascade Township for medical issues caused by the fight. He was transported to a hospital where he died. The cause of his death was listed as 'blunt force trauma to the abdomen, causing internal bleeding."
Greg Gilmore, owner of The B.O.B., in text messages to 24 Hour News 8 wrote "two party busses arrived to The B.O.B. from other sites and were turned away at the door." The people on the bus were turned away because they were drunk, he said. Gilmore said the staff got involved only after they saw someone may have gotten hurt. He wrote the incident was a result of "the party bus people" and "our staff stepped to help break it up."
Monday, Merrill said it was unlikely anyone would be charged in Barker's death because it was unclear who or what caused his injuries.
"That's what you're looking for, was there a singular event that took place and that caused an injury and that injury resulted in the death?" Merrill said. "Right now, it just looks like a dogpile, so as you can imagine, it's very, very difficult, that the people involved may not even know that they're responsible."
Police said they have video of the argument and interviews with cooperative witnesses. Police also said they are considering misdemeanor assault charges against the victim's friend for the punch.
The incident remains under investigation by the Grand Rapids Police Department Major Case Team. Anyone with information about what happened is asked to call police at 616.456.3604 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.
The B.O.B. has had a troubled history recently after three people died in separate incidents when they fell down a stairwell. All three men had been drinking, prior to the incidents, police said. The stairwell was recently renovated in an effort to prevent future falls.
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