Neighbors worry about safety after up to 50 shots fired near GR high school

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Some neighbors of Ottawa Hills High School say the school district should beef up security after as many as 50 shots were fired near their homes during a basketball game Tuesday night.

A short time after those shots were fired, fights broke out in the gym, ending the game between Ottawa Hills and Union high schools. It’s not clear if the shots and fights were related.

Neighbors on Rosewood Avenue SE, directly east of the school, say their street is jammed with cars whenever Ottawa Hills High School hosts an event.

“Good neighborhood, good neighbors, I love this neighborhood,” said John Van’t Land, who witnessed the shots fired in front of his home on Rosewood. “Ottawa Hills, they’ve got troubles and they need to work on them.

Police on scene near Ottawa Hills High School.

“If they know that they’re having a big event where tensions are going to be high, then provide security not only for the high school but for this neighborhood.”

Grand Rapids Public Schools officials said the shots were fired during the third quarter of the game, but there were no reports of weapons or shots fired inside the school or on school property.

Police said shots struck cars and homes. There were no reports of injuries.

Then, a short time later, just before 8:30 p.m., with about two seconds to go in a tie game, fights broke out in the stands.

In a statement to parents, GRPS Chief of Public Safety and School Security Larry D. Johnson said “all precautionary safety measures were in place (at the game), including public safety personnel and metal detectors.”

Police arrested three — two for fighting and one for carrying a concealed weapon — but wouldn’t say if they were students.

School officials said they don’t believe the three were GRPS students, though police hadn’t released their names to them.

Van’t Land said he watched the shooting from his driveway on the street out front. He said he believes three shooters opened fire on each other.

“They’re rambunctious, they’re geeked up, they’re having a discussion about something, and then, all of a sudden, I hear a kid say, ‘Oh, oh, oh, oh.’ (Then) boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,” he said.

A shot struck his house beneath an upstairs bedroom window but didn’t get inside.

Three shots hit his neighbor’s 2001 Honda Civic, piercing a taillight, the back seat and the driver’s side front seat.

“These kids did not know how to shoot,” Van’t Land said. “They were doing the whole gang-style thing, pow, pow, pow, pow, ‘look at me, I’m a big guy,’ pow, pow, pow, pow, pow. But they were chickens once they ran out of bullets.”

Instead of pursuing each other, he said, they all jumped into cars and sped away.

“I don’t understand. What was this all about? Bravado? Or was it about actually wanting to kill somebody? I don’t get it. I don’t get it. It was senseless,” he said.

GRPS officials said students involved in the fight could face up to expulsion.

“The fighting that took place during last night’s game is completely out of line with our district’s expectation for the behavior of event-goers at our athletic events,” the district’s public safety director wrote to parents. “Our Public Safety Department is working with the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) to investigate the fights and will follow our Student Policy Handbook and all appropriate laws regarding disciplinary and legal action.”

Detectives are asking anyone with information on the shooting to contact them directly at 616.456.3380 or anonymously through Silent Observer at 616.774.2345 or silentobserver.org.

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