GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Less than halfway through 2019, Grand Rapids is one killing shy of the number of homicides it logged in all of 2018.
On Tuesday, Javon Holloway, 21, became the eighth homicide victim of the year. The 21-year-old father of a 1-year-old boy was fatally shot on Temple Street SE west of Kalamazoo Avenue. Police Wednesday afternoon said they were still working to find the killer.
Holloway’s cousin, Malcolm Davis, says his family had gathered at a home near the shooting scene when they suddenly heard gunshots.
“We’re outside as a family having a family gathering and next thing I know, I hear shots. I come outside and I see my little cousin on the floor,” Davis told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday. “I knew I had to be there while he was there taking his last breaths. … That’s too much.”
Davis said Holloway loved being a father. Another loved one described him as the “glue” that held their family together.
“This is a family over here that just got the heart snatched out of it,” said William Paulino, a close friend who says he was like a brother to Holloway.
“When he first had his son, it was just like a bundle of joy for him,” Davis said. “He couldn’t keep his mind off of his son.”
Holloway’s death brings the total number of homicide deaths in Grand Rapids to eight for 2019. If the trend continues, the city is set to post one of its highest annual homicide totals in recent history.
It’s a trend Pastor Jerry Bishop of Lifequest Ministries is hopeful he can help change. The pastor opened the doors of his church Wednesday evening, calling on community members to join in awareness and prayer.
“We are engulfed in a war of the upper proportion with bad decision-making,” Bishop told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday before the service. “I truly, truly believe that these are lifestyle decisions.”
Bishop said he has officiated several funerals recently for young victims who lost their lives to violence and suicide. He says he gets a unique perspective from the pulpit.
“When you look on the face of these young people, you see faces that are traumatized,” Bishop said. “They’re victims. I see the look of hopelessness, despair.”
Aside from incorporating faith, Bishop said he hopes to see additional funding to develop programs that inspire young people on the city’s southeast side to lead full, productive lives.
“I would hope and pray that today is the last day that we lose a young man or a young woman,” Bishop said. “But it’s going to take a collected effort from everybody in our community.”
Holloway’s loved ones were planning a candlelight vigil for Wednesday evening at the scene of the shooting.
Anyone with information on any of the city’s homicide cases is urged to call GRPD at 616.456.3400 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.