GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two young girls are now without their father after his life was taken by violence in Grand Rapids.

Jontell White was shot and killed around 1:45 a.m. Saturday near Division Avenue South and Rose Street. Police said someone shot White multiple times before taking off.

“Anything I needed, he would give it to me,” said Zaniya, White’s 11-year-old daughter. “He was just a good person to me.”

White’s second daughter, Dakayla, is only 1.

“We got to show her pictures for the rest of her life,” said Adrianna Gregory, Dakayla’s mother. “His oldest daughter, that hurts the most because she had a relationship with him. And y’all snatched that from her.”

On Sunday night, those close to White paid their respects by illuminating his neighborhood in a candlelight vigil.

“No matter what, we here,” Gregory said. “No matter how cold it is what time of night it is, we out here for him. So he know everybody loves him.”

Zaniya held up a picture with her dad celebrating her ninth birthday.

“It hurts for his kids,” Gregory said. “They need their dad. They need him. She don’t get an opportunity to take him to a father-daughter dance. She don’t get the opportunity to even share her fifth birthday with him.”

“What about when it’s time for her to get married?” Gregory added. “Her dad won’t be able to walk her down the aisle. So that’s just been playing in my head.”

White was a good person who people could rely on, his loved ones say.

“He was basically the protector. Everyone looked up to him. Everyone knew that he was going to look out for them. He loved everybody from family to friends. He had a loving heart,” Gregory said.

“He was just a great person. A nice person and a good person,” Zaniya said.

  • Loved ones mourn the loss of Jontell White at a vigil on Jan. 15, 2023. White was shot and killed in Grand Rapids Saturday morning.
  • Loved ones mourn the loss of Jontell White at a vigil on Jan. 15, 2023. White was shot and killed in Grand Rapids Saturday morning.
  • Loved ones mourn the loss of Jontell White at a vigil on Jan. 15, 2023. White was shot and killed in Grand Rapids Saturday morning.
  • Loved ones mourn the loss of Jontell White at a vigil on Jan. 15, 2023. White was shot and killed in Grand Rapids Saturday morning.
  • Loved ones mourn the loss of Jontell White at a vigil on Jan. 15, 2023. White was shot and killed in Grand Rapids Saturday morning.

On Saturday afternoon, police said their suspect was wearing a black coat and black pants when he ran off. Police have not named the suspect.

News 8 reached out to GRPD on Sunday afternoon asking if anyone is in custody but has not heard back as of Sunday night.

“You have to have respect for human life,” said Yolanda Mitchell, White’s aunt. “He was a human being. He was loved. He is somebody.”

Mitchell asked why another life was taken too soon by violence.

“His mother is grieving,” she said. “It’s all too familiar. We hear about it in our community all too often that we’re losing our sons to senseless violence.”

Gregory had a message for the person who took the girls’ father from them.

“So whoever did this, I’m not just hurting for myself, I’m hurting for his girls,” she said. “Y’all took their dad away from them, and that is wrong.”

As his loved ones process an unimaginable loss, they say his legacy is his children.

“His flesh may not be here, but his spirit will always remain within his children,” Gregory said. “His children will carry his name on.”