GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A murder suspect died after what the Grand Rapids police chief called a “running gun battle” with officers Thursday.

Grand Rapids Police Department Chief Eric Winstrom said it was not clear whether the suspect was shot by officers or if he died “by his own hand” — something he called a “real possibility.” An autopsy will determine what happened.

The chief would not immediately confirm the name of the man who died, though he acknowledged that police were looking for Patrick Jones in the Oct. 11 shooting death of his ex-girlfriend Tamiqua Wright.

Winstrom said the situation “unraveled so quickly.” Members of a fugitive task force were following up on a tip through Silent Observer that Jones was at a home in the area of Jefferson Avenue and Labelle Street SE. Just before noon, they came upon the man in an alley there after he came out of the house.

The chief said that when the suspect clocked them, he started shooting at them and took off. What followed was a “running gun battle,” the chief said, that spanned a couple of blocks through a busy neighborhood and past a school. Three officers returned fire. Eventually, the man went down on Cass Avenue north of Garden Street with a bullet wound to the head.

“It was just four shots then another one right after it,” neighbor Colleen Perkins, who lives along Cass, told News 8. “Four in succession then one right after it: pow pow pow pow and then pow.”

“Start to finish, I’d say (the shootout and chase lasted) maybe three minutes,” Winstrom said.

A map shows where a "running gun battle" between a murder suspect and Grand Rapids police began and ended on Dec. 1, 2022.
A map shows where the shootout and chase began and ended.

No officers were shot. In his initial news conference around 1 p.m., the chief said he had not yet spoken to them.

“Numerous” shots were fired, though it wasn’t immediately clear exactly how many. Winstrom said crime scene teams would have to comb an “extremely long crime scene” and recover shell casings and spent ammunition to get a good count.

“The officers’ squad car was struck numerous times, I saw,” he said. “There were so many shots fired by this individual that there’s a real chance that there were residences struck, as well, and so I do have officers that are doing a full canvass of the area to make sure that there’s no other bystanders which were hit.”

The chief later tweeted a photo of the cruiser with bullet holes in the hood and windshield.

Winstrom said he believed the man was armed with a semi-automatic 9 mm handgun.

“Extremely dangerous,” he said of the shootout in the residential neighborhood. “Those 9 mm rounds can go straight through siding. Extremely dangerous.”

The shootout and foot chase happened near Southeast Career Pathways High School, which was initially placed on lockdown and then dismissed early. A Grand Rapids Public Schools spokesman said that while no students were involved, some did witness part of the shootout and the body could be viewed from the school.

“Extremely thankful no officers were hurt. Extremely thankful that no one on the street was hurt…” the chief said. “He was a wanted homicide offender, so we know he’s got the lack of respect for human life, so that was a real concern.”

TAMIQUA WRIGHT’S FAMILY: “JUSTICE”

“I can’t believe that this went down like this but I’m happy,” Tamiqua Wright’s grandmother, Perfedia Rosa, told News 8 Thursday.

“…I would have preferred him to rot in prison, but at the end of the day, it is what it is,” one of Wright’s aunts said.

Wright was shot dead while driving in the area of Eastern Avenue and 44th Street just after 1 a.m. Oct. 11. She left behind five children: Four sons and a 7-month-old daughter.

Grand Rapids police detectives had been looking for Jones, Wright’s ex-boyfriend, since October. They said he was the passenger in the car, shot her and then ran off when the car crashed.

An undated courtesy photo of Patrick Jones.

“Long story short, he shot her,” the police chief told News 8 on Monday, putting out a call for the community to help find Jones. “He executed her.”

After Thursday’s shooting, Wright’s family was relieved, saying it brought them closure.

“It means justice for Tamiqua, justice for my niece, justice for her kids,” Wright’s aunt, Aisha Rosa, said. “Closure for our family.”

Wright’s cousin, Shaquyia Morris, wears a necklace that contains her ashes.

“A lot of mixed emotions, a lot,” Morris said. “…Her daughter’s going to ask questions when she gets older, and how can you explain to a child growing up as a woman (that) your mom is not here because of the other party of the parent? So it is closure, but it’s like, how can you go from here? Where can you go from here?”

An undated photo of Tamiqua Wight courtesy family.
An undated photo of Tamiqua Wight courtesy family.

Wright’s grandmother recalled her as sweet, saying she always had a smile on her face, and a loving mother who worked hard to support her children. Morris said Wright had talked about going back to school to advance her career.

The family said it has lost four members, including Wright, to gun violence. They say they cope by relying on each other.

“Our kids, they’re dying young for no reason,” Aisha Rosa said. “They’re dying young for no reason. Not only our kids but a lot of kids are dying for no reason. It doesn’t make no sense.”

VIDEO MAY BE RELEASED FRIDAY

Michigan State Police have been called in to investigate Thursday’s shooting. The three officers involved were placed on administrative leave. When MSP’s investigation is complete, the Kent County prosecutor will decide whether the officers were justified in their use of force. All of that is standard procedure.

Winstrom said he hoped to be able to release body camera video as early as Friday afternoon.

“I’m hopeful that talking to the Michigan State Police, that they’ll be OK with (releasing the video). It seems pretty cut and dried so it would be nice to assemble this video and hopefully get it out tomorrow afternoon if, logistically, we can do it,” Winstrom said. “But now, we’re not talking just one camera; we’re talking at least three cameras of the officers. But I’ll just say, commitment from me: as soon as possible.”

—News 8’s Ken Kolker and Byron Tollefson contributed to this report.