GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) —The family of the 16-year-old who died on Sunday is begging whoever shot and killed him to come forward.
Police have not identified the teen, but his family spoke to News 8 and said his name was Joseph Ivory Jr.
Family and friends gathered Monday at a vigil to mourn him.
Grand Rapids police were called to the scene of a crash near Blaine Avenue SE and Boston Street SE just after midnight on New Year’s Day, where they found the teen with a gunshot wound. They attempted to save him, but he did not survive.
His father said he left behind a 10-month-old son who “looks just like him.” He also had several siblings.
“I’m going to pray that they take whoever did this, whoever did this to my son I’m going to pray for you, but you must be punished too,” the father, Joseph Ivory Sr., said.
His family says Joseph Ivory Jr., also known as Jojo, was selective with who he trusted. For those who made the cut and got to know him, he was an outgoing force in bringing them joy and making them laugh along the way.
On the family tree, Joseph Ivory Jr. is Jayla Luckett’s cousin. But to her, he was her brother from the very beginning.
“We grew up, like potty trained. We were in diapers together,” Luckett said. “I’m going to miss his laughs, his FaceTime calls. We used to FaceTime for like three hours just to make me laugh. … He was there for me.”
Through every twist and turn of life, Luckett says he was all eyes and ears for the people he cared for most.
“Keep your head up,'” Luckett recalled one of their conversations. “He used to tell me … ‘If you need me, I’m here for you.'”
Together, Tana Pethers and Joseph Ivory Jr. brought little Kahleil into the world. He’ll turn 10 months old Wednesday — without a father, but with many to help carry on his memory.
“I’m going to always make sure my baby knows who his daddy is. … He is going to be remembered for sure,” Pethers said. “He was just a fun person to be around with, no matter where. You could bring him anywhere; he’d put a smile on everybody’s faces where he was at.”
To his loved ones, Joseph Ivory Jr. may have lived 16 short years on this earth, but he is in their hearts forever.
“He was a real brother, friend, cousin, father,” Luckett said.
“I love him so much,” Pethers tearfully said.
The Grand Rapids Police Department has not identified a suspect in the shooting.
“Whoever took my son’s life will you please, will you please come forward,” his father said. “All I’m asking for is justice. I’d like justice be served on behalf of my son.”
Anyone with information should contact the Grand Rapids Police Department at 616.456.3380 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345 or silentobserver.org.