8th person charged in downtown GR riot

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One more person now faces prison for allegedly taking part in the downtown Grand Rapids weekend riot, bringing the total number charged to eight. 

In court Friday for arraignment was 23-year-old Chase Vladimir Spencer, who lives in Grand Rapids and has no known connection to any movement or organized group. He was charged with one count of riot and one count of malicious destruction of a building.

Spencer came to the United States from Uzbekistan when he was 11 and learned English and American Sign Language because he is deaf. 

His life in the U.S. has been eventful. In Grand Rapids District Court alone, he has 21 files for alleged violations that include trespassing, littering and being a minor in possession of alcohol. 

He has spent time behind bars on at least three felony convictions, including a 2016 larceny after which he had to pay $12,900 in restitution to the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. In 2018, he was sentenced to one to five years in prison for retail fraud. He was released on parole in February. 

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, police say, he destroyed the Urban Obsession Day Salon at 44 Fountain St. NW, between Ionia and Ottawa avenues.

>>TIMELINE: Rioters damage Grand Rapids buildings, set fires

Through a sign language interpreter, Spencer told the judge Friday that he has no job and lives with his brother in Grand Rapids. 

The judge said that his criminal record was one of the reasons he set a cash bond.

“The court otherwise has concerns about public safety given the nature of the charges and the circumstances associated with these charges,” Grand Rapids District Court Judge Michael Distel said. “The court does believe that a cash bond is appropriate. The court will set a bond at $10,000 cash surety.”  

While there have been eight charged in the riot so far, many more charges are likely, according to the Kent County Prosecutors Office. 

If you have information about the riot that you want to share with investigators, you can still call Grand Rapids Police Department’s Detective Unit at 616.456.3380 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The FBI is still taking tips and images online about riots around the country.

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