Family can’t understand why man killed in GR

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who police say they suspect was an “unintended target” was shot and killed by an unknown assailant early Sunday on Grand Rapids’ northeast side.

Family members identified the victim as Jeff Mathews, 60.

Police say the shooting happened around 2:30 a.m. at the Creston Plaza Apartments on Clancy Avenue NE south of Leonard Street. Matthews was rushed to the hospital, where he later died.

Neighbors told News 8 the shooting happened while dozens of people were hanging out in the parking lot. They said they heard gunshots and then saw cars speeding away.

“(Jeff) usually don’t leave the house after 11,” Mark Mathews said of his older brother. “He’s usually in bed so I couldn’t understand why he was out that late.”

jeffrey matthews
An undated courtesy photo of Jeff Mathews.

They come from a large family of 16 children. Siblings say Jeff Mathews was known for being a family man and keeping to himself. The news of his violent death was hard to come to terms with.

“He loved his family. He’s a good person. I know people say that about their family but he really is a good person. Never hurt no one, never been in trouble and do anything for anyone,” Mark Mathews told News 8. 

GRPD didn’t release much information about the case or the circumstances surrounding the shooting but indicated that the victim was not believed to have been the intended target.

“It wasn’t intended for him,” Mathews said. “It was just wrong place, wrong time. But when is the right time for a bullet?”

He said he will miss late-night phones calls from his brother just to talk.

“He loved talking on the phone. In the middle of the night, he’ll just wake up and call his family no matter what part of the country they’re in,” Mathews said.

Officers were back out at the apartments Sunday morning gathering witness statements. As of Sunday night, no arrests had been made and police had not provided a suspect description.

The death marks the city’s 11th homicide of 2019 and comes at a time when Grand Rapids police report a spike in shootings and violent crime.

Detectives are encouraging any witnesses or people with information about the case to leave an anonymous tip with Silent Observer at 616.774.2345 or contact any of the following detectives directly:

  • Sgt. John Purlee: 616.456.3343
  • Detective Adam Baylis : 616.456.3648
  • Detective Kelli Braate: 616.456.4548
  • Detective Jim Jorgensen: 616.456.4151

**Correction: A previous version of this article spelled the victim’s name as Jeff Matthews. His surname is actually spelled Mathews. We regret the error, which has been fixed.

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