GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Witnesses described it as a public execution; a man had been gunned down just steps from a Grand Rapids nightclub.
It’s been three months since Jontell White, 30, was shot on the street seconds after he left Metro Grand Rapids amid other exiting patrons.
The killing outside the club at 1901 South Division was brazen, but it’s what happened next that may ultimately lead to an arrest.
According to state police reports obtained by Target 8, two troopers happened to be headed northbound on US-131 at the precise moment a maroon Jeep Cherokee tore onto the highway from Burton Street.
The troopers were delivering a suspect in an unrelated case to the Kent County Jail. They ended up catching a potential murder suspect instead.
WITHIN MINUTES, MILES: A POTENTIAL BREAK
“While enroute to the jail, Grand Rapids Dispatch advised there were shots fired at the Metro Bar … located on Division Ave, just north of Burton,” wrote the trooper. “Grand Rapids reported the shots at 0148 (1:48 a.m.), the same time I was marked enroute to the jail. The Metro Bar was 1.5 miles away and approximately four minutes from our current location.”
“I flashed my spotlight on the vehicle, and it proceeded to drive carelessly … weaving in and out of traffic,” wrote one of the troopers in reports obtained by Target 8 through the Freedom of Information Act.
“Debris was in the air as we arrived at N/B US 131 near Cherry Street,” reported the trooper. “We observed a crash involving a sedan and the aforementioned SUV.”
State police said they confirmed no one was seriously hurt in the sedan before heading for the SUV.
“As I was approaching the SUV, one suspect was in the process of jumping over the concrete barrier leading to the Cherry St exist ramp,” reported the trooper. “When I was exiting my patrol car another suspect was exiting the passenger seat and quickly jumped over the concrete barrier.”
The trooper said as he chased the suspects, ordering them to stop multiple times, he witnessed the passenger “throw his bag over the chain fence to the east into Heartside Park.”
Later, after catching and cuffing the passenger, the trooper said he secured and searched the discared bag.
A .45 CALIBER GLOCK, ONE IN CHAMBER, FULLY AUTOMATIC
“I thoroughly searched within the shoulder bag (and) observed a handgun, which was determined to be a .45 caliber Glock 21,” wrote the trooper. “The handgun was modified with an automatic Glock conversion switch. The switch allows for the semi-auto handgun to be fired as a fully automatic firearm.”
The report also noted there was a round in the chamber and three additional rounds in the extended magazine.
Michigan State Police reported multiple troopers assisted in the pursuit, as did the Grand Rapids Police Department.
They were able to bring the passenger into custody, but the report said it was the driver of the SUV who matched the description of the shooter.
“GRPD was able to obtain a surveillance photograph of the shooting suspect,” wrote the trooper. “This photograph shows the suspect to be a tall thin black male wearing black pants, a black hoodie with a white logo on the center of the back, and blue in color underwear. After reviewing my in-car video, the first suspect that fled (the driver) matches the description…”
While the driver remains at large, the passenger has been behind bars since Jan. 14.
He’s charged with resisting police, carrying a concealed weapon and possessing a Glock conversion switch.
A trooper wrote in the report that the passenger claimed he’d been asleep in the front passenger seat of his friend’s car but awoke when the crash happened.
“When asked who was driving the car, (the passenger) advised that it was his friend … He added that he did not know (his friend’s) real name,” relayed a trooper in the report, noting the passenger acknowledged they’d been at the Metro Grand Rapids club but said it was earlier in the night.
“SCARED, DIZZY” WITH A “HEAVY FANNY PACK”
“(The passenger) admitted to running from the cops and tossing his bag because it felt heavy,” wrote a trooper. “(He) advised that after the crash he was scared, dizzy from bumping his head and started running away because someone else ran away in front of him. (He) states that he remembers grabbing his ‘fanny pack’ out of the car, then took off running. (He) added that after a few seconds he realized that the bag felt heavy, so he threw the bag to try and get rid of it.”
Target 8 is not identifying the passenger because Grand Rapids Police have not publicly named him as a suspect in Jontell White’s homicide.
But it’s clear MSP considered the men who fled the Jeep Cherokee in the early morning hours of Jan. 14 potential suspects in the homicide that happened moments before, less than two miles away.
“Due (to) the proximity of where I observed the SUV entering N/B US-131 from Burton, the behavior of the occupants within the SUV, and the recovered firearm, there is a possibility that these were the suspects (in) the Grand Rapids homicide.”
No one has been charged directly in Jontell White’s killing, and GRPD, which typically does not comment on open cases, told Target 8 the investigation is ongoing.