GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Police have identified the 16-year-old who was shot and killed on Grand Rapids’ northeast side on July 4. His family believes they know who killed him.
Ja’Juan Webb, 16, was only a few blocks from home when he was shot and killed on the city’s northeast side. The Kent County Medical Examiner has ruled his death a homicide.
“We were supposed to go watch the fireworks,” said Antionette Evans, Webb’s mother. I said Ja’Juan, text me when you get to the park, please.”
“‘Ok, mom,’” she said he replied.
Sixteen-year-old Webb never made it to the park.
Grand Rapids police say he was gunned down while riding his bike with friends Monday afternoon around 3:40 p.m. on Leonard Street between Paris and College avenues. When officers arrived, they found Webb dead between two homes on Leonard.
The day of the shooting, a neighbor, Roger Pickard, said he was sitting on his porch at his home on Leonard Street when he saw a young man walking toward College Avenue.
“We seen one guy walk by and then a couple minutes later we seen three guys on bikes come up to the guy that was walking,” Pickard said.
He said the young men on bikes called out to the person walking. Soon, Pickard heard four to five pops and then police sirens.
“They dropped their bikes, and they all ran after the shots,” Pickard said.
Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom said Webb was one of the people on the bicycles.
The only boy in the family, Webb’s mom and sisters say he was their protector.
“There’s no bringing my son back. There’s not a Ja’Juan walking through the door to see me again,” said Evans.
Two days later, no arrests have been made. But the teen’s family says they know who did it, saying they believe the killer is someone Webb had had been feuding with for months.
“Yeah. I’ve been worried,” his mother said.
Police say Webb was the fourth teen to be shot and killed in Grand Rapids already this year. That is more than any recent full year on record including 2020, the city’s deadliest year with 38 killings reported.
Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker is also noting a rise in violent crime among kids.
“(It’s) one of the most serious concerns we have in law enforcement, from a prosecutor’s perspective, and I think, from the police perspective as well. The juvenile crimes — the level, the amount, the seriousness,” said Becker.
“He’s not a man,” said a tearful Evans. “These are babies. These are babies.”
The Grand Rapids Police Department’s Major Case Team is handling the incident. Anyone with information about this shooting is asked to contact GRPD detectives at 616.456.3380 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.