Activist speaks out after 11 shot overnight in GR

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids police are investigating after 11 people were shot between Saturday night and early Sunday morning — Seven of those victims were shot near a business.

Police were called to the East Paris Hookah Lounge on Stahl Drive near East Paris Avenue around 1:28 a.m. Sunday after someone reported hearing gunshots. When they arrived, they found several shots were fired from inside a business as well as into that business.

Seven victims showed up at area hospitals with gunshot wounds. One of the victims, a 29-year-old man, suffered life-threatening injuries. He is in serious condition but is stable.

The other six victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries. They range in age from 21 to 37 years old.

Police say most of the victims are not cooperating with the investigation, which is ongoing.

Just hours before this incident, Grand Rapids police began investigating three other shooting incidents that left four people injured Saturday night:

  • One person was shot around 10:05 p.m. on Lincoln Avenue NW near Second Street NW. The victim is expected to survive.
  • Two people were shot around 10:10 p.m. near Kalamazoo Avenue SE and Adams Street SE. Both victims sustained non-life-threatening injuries. This incident happened hours before a vigil honoring a person who was killed in a shooting on Friday.
  • A man told police he was shot near Michigan Street NW and Monroe Avenue NW around 11 p.m. Police weren’t able to find the scene but the victim is expected to survive.

“I’m not condoning what’s going on, but I seen it coming years ago,” said community activist Elijah Libbett of the weekend violence. 

Libbett is the founder of Moms on a Mission, a group aiming to stop violence. The group frequently displays images of Grand Rapids gun violence victims on Eastern Avenue on the city’s south east side. 

Libbett believed the uptick in gun violence is a result of a community that is lacking stimulation and funding. 

“Poverty breeds violence. 49507 area is predominantly Black and they get the least amount of money for anything. You’re not sowing into the people,” said Libbett. 

Libbett says the city has to do a better job of listening to the people in the communities where the violence is happening. He says it’s time for city leaders to stop talking about the problem and take action before it happens again.

“Prevention is the key. If you stop it before it starts, then you don’t have to worry about 20 something murders,” said Libbett. 

The city of Grand Rapids recently announced plans to back a Cure Violence program to slow gun violence and theft in the city. The city said it hoped to roll out the programs associated with the crime prevention tactic by the end of 2020.

Anyone with information on this weekend’s incident is asked to call the Grand Rapids Police Department at 616.456.3400 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.

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