GRPD: 5-year-old shot, expected to be OK

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A 5-year-old girl is expected to be OK after she was shot at her Grand Rapids home Monday night and then didn’t receive medical attention for some 12 hours.

The case is another example of the gun violence that has been racking the city, and there are no answers yet as to who pulled the trigger.

A little before 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Grand Rapids Police Department received a call from Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital that a mother had brought in a 5-year-old with multiple gunshot wounds to her lower extremities.

“Right now, the child is OK. The injuries are believed to be non-life-threatening, thankfully so, and (she is) expected to make a full recovery,” GRPD Sgt. John Wittkowski said.

Police soon realized the girl had been shot at a home on St. Charles Avenue SW, in the area of Burton Street and US-131. Police had responded to that home around 9:50 p.m. Monday on a report of shots fired.

“When officers arrived, we had variable amount of cooperation. The house was hit, multiple rounds were shot into the house. An unknown vehicle was involved that fled the scene,” Wittkowski said.

But officers didn’t see a victim, so they left.

Police say the house was filled with as many as 10 people, including several children, when the shooting happened. At the house Tuesday, a teen told News 8 off camera that he was the big brother of the 5-year-old.

It is believed that the shots were fired from outside the home. 

“One round hit the house, but we had believed that more rounds were evident somewhere,” Wittkowski. “A vehicle is supposed to be involved, but how was it involved? Quite often witnesses will see cars take off but is that just someone looking to get the heck out of the area or is that someone actually involved in this?”

The case has shocked the conscience of police and the community.

“We’re seeing this level of violence and now it’s escalating to the point where children are being harmed,” Wittkowski said.

The Burton Heights neighborhood, where the shooting happened, bears the marks of gang graffiti and is often the scene of gun violence.

This is the second time a 5-year-old girl has been shot in Burton Heights in less than a year. On Nov.  21, 2018, a 5-year-old girl and her 17-year-old brother were shot when someone fired several rounds into a home on Quigley Avenue, less than a mile from the Monday shooting. Both victims survived the November shooting, despite the girl being shot in the head, and no one has been arrested. 

“We’re seeing this level of violence and now it’s escalating to the point where children are being harmed,” Wittkowski said.

In Monday’s shooting, police only found out about the injured child when the hospital informed them that the victim and her mother had shown up there.

“We do have detectives out questioning the mother that brought the child to the scene to the hospital,” Wittkowski said.

How can 12 hours elapse between the shooting and admission to the hospital?

“If the child is sleeping at the time and the child is not rustled out of sleep, one could presumably not notice this or discover this until morning,” Wittkowski said. “So I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to the parent. I’m not thinking for one moment that we have a bad parent here. But that’s a question our detectives are going to have to ask: Why so long?”

‘Why’ is the operative question as police grapple with a spike in gun crime.

“I don’t want to minimize the fact that our detective unit is working on all of these and they’re truly taxed to the max here,” Wittkowski said. “Why? That’s sort of the million-dollar question right now and if we could get our finger on that, we’d be much further along on these.”

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