GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A statue of Jesus stands in the front window of a shop on Eastern Avenue SE. On Thursday, it was shot.
The shooting — one of four overnight in Grand Rapids — was reported just after 6 p.m. on Eastern at Burton Street SE.
Bullets struck Wing Heaven, forcing the owner to shut its doors. About half a dozen shots hit neighboring Botanica, including the one that pierced a window and clipped the edge of the Jesus statue.
Yellow circles mark where police found shell casings, mostly on the sidewalk, 18 in all.
On Friday, customers of Wing Heaven were greeted by particle board. Those who called the restaurant heard this recorded message: “Hello and thanks for calling Wing Heaven, Eastern Ave. Due to a senseless act of violence, we will be closed for business until further notice. Thank you all for your support. God bless.”
Olga Alvelo works at Eastern Deli across the street from Wing Heaven. She’s also the mother of murder victim No. 32 in Grand Rapids in 2020 — the city’s deadliest year. Her son, Giovani, was shot and killed outside the Wealthy Street Market.
“It’s like these young people are like they don’t care anymore and it’s sad,” Alvelo said. “Anybody could have been over there and gotten shot. Innocent people.”
A short distance north on Eastern, Elijah Libbett on Friday set up sandwich boards with the faces of men and women killed by violence in Grand Rapids — 50 that he has collected over nine years.
It’s part of the Mothers on a Mission to Stop the Violence program.
“The Bible says we walk by faith and not by the sight,” Libbett said. “These people around here walk by the sight. They have to see stuff.
“People need to see. All those kids out there, that’s a shame. That’s a lot of pictures.”
He fears he’ll be adding more this summer.
“There’s been a bunch of shootings and stuff, and the weather’s breaking, so every time the weather breaks we’re going to try to get out and be noticed,” he said.
On Thursday night, Grand Rapids police reported four shootings that left four injured — one of those just two blocks from Libbetts’ house. It’s not clear if they are related.
Police said it started at 5:35 p.m. in the 2300 block of Buchanan Avenue SW south of Burton Street, when two suspects jumped out of a vehicle and fired several shots. A 41-year-old woman was shot multiple times in the legs in a driveway.
About 8 p.m., two men, ages 22 and 27, were both outside a home on Cass Avenue near Hall Street SE when they were each shot in the lower extremities. Police said a dark SUV was seen speeding from the area. Officials say the men were taken to the hospital with injuries that are not considered life-threatening.
Then, about 2:30 a.m. Friday, a 21-year-old man told police he was walking in the area of College Avenue NE and Leonard Street when he heard gunshots as a vehicle drove by. He was hospitalized in stable condition with a gunshot wound to the hip.