GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Family and friends are remembering the life of a young Grand Rapids man who was shot and killed early Friday morning.
They held a vigil Sunday evening to honor Lavadis Crawford-Blackman, a 27-year-old from southeast Grand Rapids. His life was taken by gunfire early Friday morning in southeast Grand Rapids.
Family members recalled Crawford-Blackman as a loving father of three.
“I just want my son to know I love him deeply,” Monique Crawford, his mother, told News 8. “He is going to be truly missed every single day of my life. This has broken me to pieces and it can never be repaired.”
Grand Rapids police say a gunfight happened around 2 a.m. Friday across from My Place Bar & Restaurant on Division Avenue South near Fair Street.
Police said one officer fired a weapon but “there’s no indication” it struck anyone.
Officers found Crawford-Blackman dead after the gunfight ended. Another person was shot in the stomach and was later taken to the hospital in critical condition. Police have not named any possible suspects.
Crawford-Blackman’s mother directly addressed whoever shot her son during Sunday night’s vigil.
“I love my son and I was proud of my son,” she said. “My son was something to me. He was something to my family. So what you did, you stripped that from me. You did that to me.”
“I’m gonna try to find it in my heart to forgive you, but it’s going to be a long road ahead,” she continued.
Crawford-Blackman’s children, grandmother, aunt and other family members also attended the vigil. The family held pictures of him and released balloons into the sky to honor his memory.
“You don’t understand the pain that I’m going through,” his mother said. “I gotta go through this for the rest of my life.”
They also pleaded for an end to gun violence that continues to devastate communities and families like Crawford-Blackman’s. His aunt, Hallie Sueing Rimmer, asked other families going through the same thing to join them and “take our city back.”
“We can’t even comprehend what all this killing is even about,” she said. “But it’s gonna take us to walk these streets and this pavement to take back our city.”
Rimmer had recently seen Crawford-Blackman at a family gathering. She said her last memory is him saying, “Hi Auntie, I love you.”
Cle Jackson, the president of the Grand Rapids Branch of the NAACP, stood by the family’s side Sunday night to honor “a life gone too soon,” he said.
“A young life has been lost,” Jackson said. “It’s timeout. It is timeout for it.”
Jackson said enough is enough: Communities are losing too many young people.
“It’s too many of our young men and women dying senselessly,” Jackson said. “We need to talk about gun violence. We need to talk about feeling like we are being held hostage in our own communities.”
Jackson said the community should reflect on what should be done next to prevent more tragedy.
“We have to stop sitting on the sidelines being quiet,” he said. “How do we police our own community? How do we make sure we get the necessary resources when it comes to mental health services, when it comes to substance abuse services?”
Jackson reflected that his sister was murdered at the age of 26 and the crime remains unsolved today. He urged the community to wrap its arms around the family and anyone else experiencing devastation.
Another man, 39-year-old Laeveil Walker of Grand Rapids, was killed outside My Place Bar in March. A second man was shot that night and taken to the hospital in critical condition.
“We should be able to come out and enjoy ourselves regardless of where it is and feel safe,” Jackson said. “There should be a certain level of security to make sure the people that come to these establishments are safe.”
Jackson called on anyone who knows something about the shooting to come forward. GRPD believes there may be additional witnesses who left the scene. If you know anything, police ask you to contact the detective unit at 616.456.3380. Tips can also be sent to Silent Observer at 616.774.2345 or through its website.