GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The teen authorities believe pulled the trigger in the deadly shooting of an East Kentwood High School senior is in custody.
Grand Rapids police tell 24 Hour News 8 that 17-year-old Israel Valdez turned himself in and remains in the Kent County jail.
Jail records show he was formally charged Saturday with open murder, assault with intent to rob while armed and armed robbery in connection to Sunday’s shooting death of 17-year-old James King.
King’s cousin told 24 Hour News 8 they were selling marijuana in the parking lot of the Towne & Country Shopping Center in Grand Rapids when a customer tried to rob them, shooting King in the head.
Court documents indicate four suspects had planned to rob King during the deal. Investigators say they were in Ahmed Hasan’s Dodge Magnum with King when Valdez shot King in the face. King then either fell out or was pushed out of the car, the documents state.
King’s cousin said he held King in the parking lot at Kalamazoo Avenue and 44th Street SE as he waited for rescuers to arrive. King died at the scene.
Police are still looking for 17-year-old Kayleb Douglas Sims, who was allegedly driving the Magnum that sped away from the scene, court documents state.
Two other teens were already in custody — 18-year-old Alanah Claflin-Gallagos and 17-year-old Ahmed Hasan. They’ve both been charged with open murder, assault with intent to rob while armed and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
Police say they found the Magnum at Hasan’s home not far from where the shooting happened. Hasan told investigators he and the other three suspects had gone to the Towne & Country Shopping Center with the intention to rob King, the filing states.
Valdez’ mother, Jennifer Valdez, has also been charged with lying to a peace officer in a violent crime investigation for allegedly telling detectives she didn’t know any of the other suspects, or have contact with them. However, police say Valdez spoke with Claflin-Gallagos and was aware of her involvement in the murder.
24 Hour News 8 was there when Jennifer Valdez was released from jail Friday afternoon on a personal recognizance bond, but she refused to answer any questions.
All four of the teenage suspects are each facing one count of open murder, one count of assault with intent to rob while armed and one of conspiracy to commit armed robbery. The charges carry a sentence of up to life in prison.
Anyone with information regarding Sims’ whereabouts is encouraged to contact Grand Rapids police at 616.456.3400 or contact Silent Observer at 616.774.2345. If you see him, do not approach him — police say he could be armed and dangerous.