EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Cahari Walton told his mother just after midnight Wednesday that he was on his way home.
“He didn’t come home,” she told News 8.
Instead, around 12:35 a.m., East Grand Rapids police officers found him lying near the intersection of Lake Drive SE and Plymouth Road, near Corewell Health Blodgett Hospital. He was bleeding from the head. They tried to help him but he died.
Cahari Walton was 16 years old.
As day came, Candance Walton still didn’t know where her son was. None of his friends had talked to him. Then she saw the news. She called the number for police listed in the report.
“I asked them, ‘Is there any way that I can get a physical likeness of what the person looked like … or can I give you a description of what it is that my son looks like?'” she said. “They said, ‘Well, if you just come in, we can show you a photo.’ So I went and they showed me a photo and it was him.”
Cahari Walton was a former student at Grand Rapids’ Ottawa Hills High School but had most recently been taking classes online. Remembering him and the things he loved brought a smile to his mother’s face.
“He used to love football. He was a football player. Like, all of his life he played little league football; freshman year, he played football. And he was a musician, so he wanted to be a rapper,” she said.
She said he had been looking for a job.
“He didn’t even make it to see his 17th birthday,” Candance Walton said.
East Grand Rapids police are working with the Grand Rapids Police Department to figure out if a shots fired call around 12:07 a.m. in the area of Martin Luther King Jr. Street SE near Cass Avenue has anything to do with Cahari Walton’s death.
Investigators, Candance Walton said Thursday afternoon, have told her little. But she was hopeful that East Grand Rapids police would pursue the case doggedly.
“I feel like because they found him in East Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids will probably work extra hard to try to figure out who it was,” she said. “Because it don’t happen over there. … They want to know what’s going on. It’s all too common for GRPD, but East Grand Rapids (might think), ‘Oh, this can’t happen here. Let’s find out what’s going on.'”
Asked if she had any idea why someone may have wanted to hurt her son, she replied, “I don’t know what’s going on.”
“I just know that my baby didn’t come home,” she said. “I don’t know what happened. I just know I called the number and they showed me the picture and that was my baby.”
LOVED ONES HOLD VIGIL
Family and friends held a vigil Thursday night in remembrance of the 16-year-old. Loved ones brought flowers and candles to mourn his death, and balloons that were red and black — his favorite colors — were released.
“Cahari was a gentle giant,” his mother said at the vigil. “He’s got a big physical appearance, but he has a big, full spirit also. Like if anybody knows him they would be like, ‘He’s just the sweetest person.'”
The Walton family told News 8 they are holding tight to Cahari Walton’s memory, but they want justice and are searching for answers.
His mother is asking anybody who knows something to come forward.
“We definitely want justice for Cahari. If anybody knows anything please reach out,” she said. “If anybody has a Ring camera, anything that they can to help us get some information, we would appreciate that.”
Anyone with information about the shooting or death is asked to call East Grand Rapids police at 616.949.7010 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345 or silentobserver.org.
“We’d like residents to check any footage they may have, any video links that they could have,” East Grand Rapids police Detective Sgt. Scott Kolster said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. “Anything they have, however slight they may think it is, we would appreciate that being given to us. … We encourage community members to call us no matter how insignificant of a detail they may think there is.”
Candance Walton asked anyone who knows anything about what happened to ignore the “street code” and come forward.
“Don’t live by that,” she said. “Tell somebody something.”
“My baby was dead and nobody called me,” she said.
—News 8’s Michael Oszust, Kyle Mitchell, Amanda Porter and Madalyn Buursma contributed to this report.