GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A spate of violence in a southeast Grand Rapids neighborhood has left one dead and two seriously injured in the last few days.
It has all unfolded in the middle of the night near the intersection of Division Avenue South and Fair Street SE across from My Place Bar after closing time.
A gunfight around 2 a.m. Friday left 27-year-old Lavadis Crawford-Blackman of Grand Rapids dead in the parking lot across from the bar.
“I don’t know how I’m going to get through it,” Monique Crawford, his mother, told News 8 Sunday. “When you take somebody’s life, you affect a lot of people.”
“He is going to be truly missed every single day of my life,” Crawford said. “This has broken me to pieces and it can never be repaired.”
Another person was shot in the Friday morning shooting and taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Crawford-Blackman’s family held a vigil Sunday evening to implore the community to stop senseless violence.
“We can’t even comprehend what all this killing is even about, but it’s going to take us to walk these streets and this pavement to take back our city,” Hallie Sueing Rimmer, Crawford-Blackman’s aunt, said.
Cle Jackson, the president of the Greater Grand Rapids NAACP, also pleaded for an end to young lives being lost too soon.
“It’s too many of our young men and women dying senselessly,” Jackson said. “We need to talk about gun violence. We need to talk about feeling like we are being held hostage in our own communities.”
“A young life has been lost. It’s time out. It is time out for it,” Jackson continued.
Another man, Laeveil Walker, was killed in a shooting at S. Division at Fair Street in March. And around 2:40 a.m. Monday, police said, a man was seriously injured in a stabbing in the middle of Fair. Police say the victim stepped in to break up a fight before he was stabbed.
Grand Rapid Police Department Chief Eric Winstrom told News 8 that investigators have not tied My Place Bar to the latest trouble in the area. He said there are several contributing factors to the area’s crime problems.
“Where there is liquor sold, where there is a lot of area for people to congregate — there’s bus stops, where there’s liquor stores, where there’s bars, especially with late-night hours — those statistically have a higher percentage of places where were seeing tragic violence,” Winstrom said.
Police have not identified any possible suspects for the Friday morning shooting or the Monday morning stabbing. If you know anything, police ask you to contact the detective unit at 616.456.3380. Tips can also be sent to Silent Observer at 616.774.2345 or through its website.
Regenail Thomas, the CEO of Seeds of Promise, said the area neighborhood association is resident-led and driven to strategically address safety concerns in the community.
“I think any human being would be concerned with what’s going on,” Thomas said. “We have so many residents who are concerned.”
“I’m wondering, where are the leaders in our community?” he asked. “Where are the parents? Where’s the community leadership in regards to interfering, impacting these issues?”
Thomas said the city is generally headed in the right direction, citing community leaders and organizations coming together to focus on addressing the root causes of violent crime. He referenced organizations like Cure Violence, the Urban League and other neighborhood associations.
Seeds of Promise works with residents, the police and fire departments, city hall, pastors and anyone else “who believes in public safety,” Thomas said. But he said the last few days have shown it’s a long road ahead.
“We’re still having these issues, so those leaders have to also recognize how we’re coming up short,” Thomas said. “We must do better.”
Seeds of Promise brings families together every month with “peace socials” to talk about what they need most. The group also teams up with the Dispute Resolution Center to help families resolve trauma outside of the legal process.
The association is also focused on the DICE Program, a task force between police and community aimed to crack down on violent crime by narrowing in on the areas where it’s happening the most.
“There are long-standing issues in targeted areas in the community that are not different than many cities across the country,” Thomas said. “Wherever you have longstanding issues of poverty, a lack of education, hopelessness, people not able to get the type of mental health care or just physical health care they need.”
Thomas emphasized that residents and leaders should hold themselves and each other accountable for creating positive change.
“Starting with holding parents and moms and dads and neighborhood leaders accountable first,” Thomas said. “We have to hold ourselves accountable to understand we are all responsible. We all have the ability to do something about the issue, and it starts with the people looking in the mirror every single day.”