GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The day after Grand Rapids’ eighth homicide of 2023, the street where it happened appeared to be back to normal — except for dangling yellow police tape and what looked like fingerprint dust on a front door.
Last year at this time, the city had reported four homicides.
“Things happen like this and it goes back to a regular day… You know what I’m saying?” neighbor Xavier Nichols said.
That bothers the man who is raising four kids across the street.
“As a father just trying to raise these kids out here, yes it does concern me because there’s a lot people of my color killing each other over nonsense, you know?” Nichols said.
Nichols said he heard the shots that killed 43-year-old Edward Antoine Kennedy, a man he didn’t know, inside the house across Worden Street SE between College and Madison avenues. It happened just before 9:30 p.m. Thursday.
The victim’s mom showed up within minutes.
“I seen his mom and the pain of hearing a mom scream when they find out that their kid is dead, you know, that hurt me,” Nichols said.
He said he fears stray shots could hit his home, like what happened to him a few years ago and a few blocks away.
“I got shot right, a bullet went through my neck right there,” he said, pointing to the front of his neck, “and I just got the bullet taken out a couple years ago.”
“We’ve got to protect those kids, you know?” he continued. “We don’t want them to grow up and go through this stuff over stupid situations, so when they grow up and they get our age, they feel like they’ve got to do what they’ve seen. I wish things would change around here.”
Family and friends gathered Friday night to honor Kennedy.
The vigil started with a prayer, as loved ones lit candles and released balloons.
His mom told News 8 she just wants people to remember Kennedy for his personality. News 8 also spoke to Kennedy’s aunt, Gail Black, who said things need to change.
“Tony was a very nice, young man,” she said. “He never bothered nobody. He didn’t pick fights and get into a lot of mess. He didn’t deserve what he got. That was totally wrong. I’m upset about is, as if the family. We are very angry about what they did to him and the way they killed him. We are angry.”
CHIEF: ‘PETTY SQUABBLE’ LIKELY LED TO SHOOTING
Grand Rapids Police Department Chief Eric Winstrom said he arrived about half an hour after the shooting to find the victim’s mother and other relatives.
“He was still lying on scene there, and she just wanted to make sense of it, and there’s just no way to do that,” he told News 8. “Very emotional, very distraught. He had a lot of loved ones, a lot of family members there. Just a really tough scene to see.”
An autopsy ruled the death a homicide. No arrests had been made as of Friday afternoon. Police said they believe the victim and shooter knew each other, though they were still trying to determine a motive.
“It sounds to me like this is some sort of petty squabble, some sort of issue of disrespect, which doesn’t have that ability to bring some sort of closure, to have it make sense in some way,” the chief said. “It’s just so avoidable on so many levels, and that’s one thing that makes this particular murder extremely frustrating, extremely bothersome.”
Winstrom questioned why those who continue to push to defund the police aren’t out supporting their neighborhoods.
“There’s people willing to come to every (Grand Rapids City) Commission meeting to advocate for abolishing the police; every commission meeting,” he said. “I didn’t see any one of those people at this murder scene, talking to the mom, advocating for the residents of the 3rd Ward.”
He said detectives were still interviewing witnesses.
“The fear that I have is that the city’s going to lose its outrage,” Winstrom said. “That neighborhood, every loved one of his, everyone on that block, everyone in that neighborhood, really everyone in the city needs to be outraged.”
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call GRPD at 616.456.3380 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.
— News 8’s Taylor Morris contributed to this report.