GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Battle Creek police continue to search for whoever is responsible for killing 2-year-old Kai Turner in a drive-by shooting.
In May, Grand Rapids Police Department Chief Eric Winstrom told News 8 he was worried about drive-by shootings inadvertently putting innocent people in their homes at risk of getting caught in the crossfire.
“You think of a bullet that goes through the front window of a house,” Winstrom told News 8 on May 19. “It’s potentially a murder. It’s potentially a murder of an innocent child that’s sitting in that house. When people shoot indiscriminately in an urban environment like Grand Rapids, there’s the potential there for young innocent victims to get killed. It’s scary. So we’re gonna do what we can to stop it.”
That’s exactly what happened in Battle Creek early Tuesday. Battle Creek police say Kai Turner was sleeping in his home on Cliff Street near Douglas Street around 2:20 a.m. when someone in a black Audi Q7 fired multiple rounds of bullets at the house. Police say Kai’s family was not the intended target, but the gunfire struck and killed him. Investigators believe “someone was looking for someone for some type of retribution” or there was an ongoing argument.
Speaking with News 8 Wednesday, Winstrom said the killing was “absolutely devastating.”
“When you have a 2-year-old toddler just asleep in their bed murdered because some coward is driving outside and thinks this is a good way to get payback against someone he’s got beef with, to shoot blindly into a house, I think it’s just the height of immorality,” Winstrom said.
“Any time that someone’s murdered it’s a tragedy,” he added. “And when it’s a murder that makes such little sense and is committed so recklessly with no thought of all for human life, it’s maddening. You can’t wrap your head around it.”
The chief, who came to Grand Rapids earlier this year from Chicago, said he has witnessed similar killings before.
“It’s devastating as an investigator, as a police officer showing up,” Winstrom said. “I’m sure the medical personnel that responded will never be the same.”
This kind of incident, with people in their homes nearly being hit by gunfire, has nearly happened multiple times this year in Grand Rapids, Winstrom said.
“It’s just by sheer luck that we haven’t had that happen here,” Winstrom said. “That’s why it’s so important to hold these offenders accountable.”
The chief said it’s extremely dangerous to fire a gun indiscriminately like this.
“A 9 mm handgun will go straight through a window,” he said. “It’ll go straight through sheet rock. It’ll go straight through two car doors and still have the strength and velocity to kill a human being.”
Still, in drive-by shootings, Winstrom said police usually have more evidence than other types of cases to find who’s responsible.
“Because you have the vehicle driving through the area,” Winstrom said. “If there’s surveillance video of that or witnesses that are going to say, ‘I saw these individuals park this car and jump out in a hurry,’ there’s more to work with as far as evidence in a drive-by shooting.”
When there’s a lack of surveillance video or witnesses, Winstrom said things can get more challenging. That’s why tips from the public can make the difference.
“A lot of times as police officers we count on the goodwill of people in the community,” Winstrom said.
Battle Creek police have secured surveillance video taken nearby. On Wednesday, they announced they recovered the Audi Q7 used in the drive-by. Police said it had been stolen from West Columbia Avenue Sunday.
As investigators continue to look for Kai’s killer, Winstrom reiterated that help from the public can be essential in solving the case and bringing justice.
“It’s really a matter for the people in Battle Creek that might know who did this to come forward and say, ‘I’m going to do the right thing, I’m going to start the process of healing for this family by telling what I know.’ It’s absolutely the right thing to do and that’s what needs to happen here.”
Anyone with information about the shooting or who was in the area at the time is asked to call BCPD at 269.781.0911 or Silent Observer at 269.964.3888.