Teen killed leaving party ‘victim of circumstance;’ 1 arrested

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities say one of at least four suspects is in custody in connection to a shooting at a teen party that killed a 16-year-old boy.

“He was not a target. He was a victim of circumstance,” said Muskegon Police Chief Jeffrey Lewis. “Because when these four shooters were firing, it was relatively indiscriminate. And I believe he was just in the line of that fire.”

Zamarian Cooper was shot in the head late Saturday night. Officers found him lying in an alley off Smith Street near E. Laketon Avenue, close to a Dollar General store. He later died at the hospital.

Cooper’s family said he was walking his sister home from the party when he was hit by the bullet.

Investigators said Wednesday that an argument erupted at the party, leading to gunfire from at least four shooters. Cooper happened to be in the line of fire.

“Something went terribly wrong. But what we can ascertain — no real reason why this happened, except some tempers flared. And the next thing you know, we had rapid gunfire at a teen party,” said Lewis.

Some community members tipped off detectives to the whereabouts of the Muskegon area teen suspected of shooting Cooper. Police took the 16-year-old boy into custody in Grand Rapids Tuesday night. Authorities are trying to determine where he got the gun allegedly used in the shooting.

Muskegon County Prosecutor DJ Hilson said detectives are looking for at least three other suspects in the shooting, based off of scene evidence during the incident. However, he said investigators have “hit a brick wall” when it comes to information leading to the suspects.

“The community does want to come forward. When our officers actually talk to someone, they do want to share the information, but sometimes our detectives and our police officers don’t know who to talk to or who to question because we just don’t know,” explained Lewis.

“In order for us to bring justice to the young man, the community needs to step forward,” Hilson said.

Authorities are urging witnesses, including those with cellphone recordings of the shooting, to contact police at 231.724.6750 or Silent Observer at 231.722.7463.

“It is time for the community to step forward. It’s time to break this wall of silence and come forward and provide information to the police. Whether you were there, whether you know somebody that was there, and what you saw. This young man who lost his life deserves that,” said Hilson.

“If we do the same old thing, we’re going to get the same old results. And we’re tired of it,” said Lewis.

“This is a very puzzling case and we are missing major pieces of this puzzle. And that’s why, we’re, you know, a lot of things we don’t know, we’re speculating or conjecture at this time. But we do, we do want to get to the bottom of this. We want to end this,” Lewis added.

Family members say Cooper was the kind of kid every parent prayed for.

“He played karate. He did martial arts. He plays three different saxophones and he got a scholarship to go to college and play his saxophone,” said his mother, Keata Bailey. “And he can’t do it. He can’t do it.”

Family members also say Cooper wrote his own music and had dreams of one day becoming a police officer.

Cooper leaves behind two sisters, his mother and grandmother who are all demanding the shooter be held responsible and an end to the violence.

The Dollar General is accepting donations for Cooper’s family.

***CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated the shooting happened outside the Dollar General store. However, police clarified Wednesday the shooting happened during a party. This story has since been corrected.***

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