***CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed a shooting at a possible drug house to neighbor Howard Moyer, who never said this. We regret this error, which has since been corrected.***
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two gunshot wounds caused the death of an 18-year-old who exchanged gunfire with Grand Rapids police on Wednesday, officials say.
The gun battle happened early Wednesday afternoon on Dickinson Street SE near Kalamazoo Avenue in Grand Rapids. The Grand Rapids Police Department says that when officers came upon Malik Carey’s vehicle, he shot at them and they returned fire. Carey was taken to the hospital, where he died.
No police officers were shot.
According to a release from Michigan State Police, an autopsy conducted Thursday determined the cause of Carey’s death was two gunshot wounds. It will likely be weeks before final, complete results will be available after toxicology test results come back.
MSP is investigating the officer-involved shooting, which is standard procedure. Police say they are still looking for any witnesses who have not already spoken to them. Anyone with information is asked to call MSP at 616.866.6660.
MSP says it will turn over the results of its investigation to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office.
Carey, of Grand Rapids, was a probation absconder and has a criminal history dating back to 2010, when he was 12. In 2015, he was charged with assault with intent to murder in connection to a Kentwood shooting, though he later pleaded to a less serious charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm.
NEIGHBOR: BLOCK WHERE SHOOTING HAPPENED NORMALLY QUIET
The gunfire led to close calls for a number of area residents, including Howard Moyer’s wife.
“She was walking in the door and she was going to turn around and get her sunglasses out of the car, and she looked out the door and seen and heard the gunshots. She just shut the door and hit the ground,” Moyer said.
Moyer has lived on the block where the shooting happened for 24 years. He said there have been problems there in the past, but for the most part things are quiet. He said residents of Dickinson face the same problems common to many neighborhoods, like too many speeding cars.
It’s not yet clear why Carey was on Dickinson Street Wednesday. There’s no indication he lived there.
Moyer views the incident was far from the norm and a tragic result of a young person carrying a gun.
“You carry a gun, there are consequences,” he said. “Whatever happened yesterday, it all could have been avoided. It could have been avoided.”
But a police news conference on the afternoon of the shooting brings into question just how the facts as we know them will be accepted by the community.
“How do you think that this will affect the community because there are some tensions with the Grand Rapids Police Department?” an unidentified woman asked while the media questioned GRPD spokesman Sgt. Terry Dixon.
Those tensions were created by, among other things, the video of a group of kids held at gunpoint and questioned because one fit the description of a gun suspect. All were soon cleared. GRPD says officers ran into a similar situation days later with a separate group of teens and did find a gun. Additionally, a recently-released study showed GRPD officers pulled over minorities more often than non-minorities in 2015.
24 Hour News 8 learned GRPD Chief David Rahinsky reached out to the Grand Rapids Branch of the NAACP and Grand Rapids Urban League after the shooting.
Urban League President and CEO Joseph Jones, also a city commissioner, provided a statement addressing the larger issue of equality.
“My challenge to the residents and stakeholders of Grand Rapids is to join in the effort of doing the work of making our city a more equitable, just and peaceful city where more people can prosper regardless of their genetic code or their zip code. A city where tragedies like this don’t become the norm,” the statement read in part.
Neighbors like Howard Moyer would also like to see a change.
“We as a city should be getting together and not dividing and separating and all these shootings and stuff that’s been going on around here,” he said. “Our community shouldn’t be even be like this. We should be closer together.”
The full statement from Jones:
“Malik Carey lost his life yesterday, and for that my heart breaks. I’m praying for Mr. Carey’s family and want them to know that many in the community are mourning the loss. I know that the incident is still being investigated and that the investigation is being led by the Michigan State Police since the shooting involved a member of the Grand Rapids Police Department. I want to ask that we not dwell on Mr. Carey’s past. This practice of bringing up any past misdeeds of the deceased is not productive nor is it respectful to the family and friends he has left behind. Regardless of any past transgressions, we must remember that Mr. Carey was someone’s son, perhaps someone’s brother, and most assuredly someone’s friend. Let us all respect his personhood and the joy his presence brought to his loved ones.“My challenge to the residents and stakeholders of Grand Rapids is to join in the effort of doing the work of making our city a more equitable, just and peaceful city where more people can prosper regardless of their genetic code or their zip code. A city where tragedies like this don’t become the norm. As the leader of the Grand Rapids Urban League, I’m acutely aware of the challenges that African Americans and other historically marginalized communities face not just here in Grand Rapids, but in every urban center throughout the country. My vision is to have neighborhoods in Grand Rapids serve as beacons of hope from the day a child is born until the day he or she starts their climb up the career ladder. I envision a city where guns are not present on the streets at alarming rates and where our law enforcement officers are not having to make split second decisions about using their weapons because the level of crime is minuscule due to the overabundance of opportunities for all. We can be a city where we see each other as having inherent value and where we practice empathy and not do unto others as they do unto you if it will cause harm. “Something just isn’t right when a young man, a child who has lived for 18 years, is spoken of in the past tense. I didn’t know Malik Carey, but I know countless other Malik Carey’s, our community’s sons and daughters who live and breathe the same air as we do in Grand Rapids and their presence needs to matter to all of us. What exactly can we do as a community to make life more abundant, more meaningful and just simply longer for them?”