17-year-old killed in strip mall parking lot

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An East Kentwood High School student was killed in a shooting in a strip mall parking lot on Grand Rapids’ south side Sunday, police say.

The victim was identified by family members as 17-year-old James King.

King lived within walking distance of the Towne & Country Shopping Center on Kalamazoo Avenue at 44th Street SE, near the Kentwood border. His mother said he frequented a corner store at the strip mall and that he was probably headed there when the shooting happened just before 5 p.m.

A witness said the victim was walking through the parking lot when the shooter opened fire from a car. The owner of Florentine’s sports bar, which is in the strip mall, said surveillance video shows King approaching the shooter’s car. Two gunshots were heard.

Police said emergency responders tried to save King, but he died on the scene.

The shooter drove off, hitting at least one other vehicle in the parking lot on the way. Police later found the suspect vehicle on nearby Norman Drive, but the driver wasn’t there. No arrests were made Sunday night.

King is believed to have been the intended target. Another person described as his cousin was nearby at the time of the shooting, but wasn’t injured.

In a Sunday evening statement, Kentwood Public Schools Superintendent Michael Zoerhoff offered prayers to King’s family. He said King went to Valleywood Middle School and East Kentwood High.

“He will be missed dearly by all of us,” Zoerhoff stated, adding that the district would provide any support it could for King’s family.

The superintendent said the district’s crisis team and trauma counselors would be available at East Kentwood on Monday.

An autopsy is scheduled for Monday. If the death is ruled a homicide, it will be Grand Rapids’ first of 2019.

Florentine’s management said it doesn’t appear anyone involved in the shooting was ever in the restaurant.

Anyone with information is asked to call GRPD at 616.456.3400 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.

—24 Hour News 8’s Heather Walker contributed to this report.

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