‘Hats off’ to community for murder investigation help

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WOOD) — A call to action got results in Muskegon.

Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson said that with he help of the community, investigators are one step closer to getting justice for 16-year-old Zamarian Cooper, who was shot and killed last week.

“We met with detectives just the other day and the information was flowing like water,” Hilson said during a Thursday town hall. “My hat’s off to the community for responding appropriately and we thank you for that.”

Muskegon violence town hall
Muskegon County Sheriff Michael Poulin (left) and Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson listen at a town hall on gun violence. (Aug. 29, 2019)

Hilson addressed dozens of concerned community members during the meeting at a Corinthians Missionary Baptist Church in Muskegon Heights about reducing gun violence in the county.

Muskegon has lost two teens to gun violence in a matter of days: Cooper, who was killed Aug. 18 while leaving a party; and 18-year-old Mervin Bonner Jr., who was killed Aug. 25. An arrest has been made in the Cooper case, but not the Bonner one.

Muskegon Heights Police Chief Joseph E. Thomas Jr. said the town hall was part of the program referred to as G.U.N.S: Gaining Unity through Non-violent Solutions. He said the Thursday meeting saw a record turnout.

Muskegon violence town hall
Muskegon Heights Police Chief Joseph Thomas speaks at a town hall on gun violence. (Aug. 29, 2019)

Among the newcomers was the new superintendent of Muskegon Public Schools, Matthew Cortez. He briefly spoke at the meeting, expressing shock and disbelief in the violence he has witnessed just two weeks into the job.

“One of the first things I did with the community was I attended a vigil for one of our boys,” Cortez said. “Our students didn’t have a lot of emotion and it scared me. We need to solve this as a community and it needs to stop.”

G.U.N.S. will continue the discussion at another meeting next month.

In the meantime, Hilson said to “stay tuned” for an update in the Cooper investigation, hinting that additional suspects may soon be arrested.

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