KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Kentwood police are calling it a gangland killing: a man shot at a 28th Street SE hotel while celebrating his son’s first birthday.
Now, a Grand Rapids man is facing charges of murder and gang-related felonies that could send him to prison for life.
The shooting on March 4, a Saturday night, killed Jaquarrie Garrett, 22, who was living in Atlanta but had returned to his hometown of Grand Rapids two days earlier for the birthday party, his family said. He was celebrating with his family at the pool at the Delta Hotel on 28th Street SE at East Beltline Avenue.
The suspect, 21-year-old Atievise Smith, is identified in court records as a member of the 30boyz gang.
“It’s not an unfamiliar name,” Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said of the gang.
The prosecutor said the local gang has been tied to other crimes.
“These groups have popped up, whether it be stolen cars, a lot of stolen car stuff,” he said. “That seems to be where these gangs are involved in.”
But the suspect’s brother, Lavonce Smith, 23, who has “30” tattooed on his throat, told Target 8 it was not a gang.
“There ain’t no gang. We’re no gang. We do it all for music. It’s just all rap stuff. That’s all it is,” he said.
The prosecutor called that a “common theme.”
“In the past, a lot of these other groups have said, ‘Oh, we’re a music group. Oh, we just get together to do rap videos,'” Becker said.
Garrett was walking from the Delta Hotel pool to rooms rented out by his family when he was shot five times in a second-floor hallway, including three times in the back. Police recovered six .40-caliber shell casings in the hallway.
Hotel surveillance footage shows Smith, wearing a ski mask and clutching the front of his waistband, leaving the hotel through the front lobby at 6:54 p.m., which was the same time the first 911 call was made about the shooting.
Then on May 16, 2023, during an unrelated incident, Smith ran from Grand Rapids police. He dropped a Glock .40-caliber handgun on the ground. Ballistics tests by Michigan State Police show it was the same gun that killed Garrett.
In an arrest warrant affidavit, police wrote that before the killing, the 30boyz had called out the victim on social media, asking where to find him and making threats.
Police arrested Smith last month in Chicago. He’s at the Kent County jail on a $1 million bond. He was on probation on a weapons charge, records show.
The prosecutor wouldn’t discuss details of the case, other than to say: “There was a beef between the two of them.”
That, he said, is usually what triggers gang-related shootings here.
“It’s not there’s a big battle going on out there in the streets of Kent County,” Becker said. “It’s just a personal dispute that is taken to the ultimate level.”
The victim’s family declined to talk, saying they fear retribution. The prosecutor said he was not aware of any threats in this case, but understands the fear.
“Unfortunately, as we’re moving forward and as we get more into the social media stuff, I think there are concerns of retribution,” Becker said. “We take those concerns very seriously.”
The suspect’s brother said they have no reason to fear. He said he was locked up at the time of the shooting. Records show he served time for weapons and attempted robbery. But he said his brother did not commit the murder.
“I don’t know what they’re afraid for,” he said. “They shouldn’t be afraid of nothing. We’re good guys. If they was to get to know us, they’d probably like us. We’re good people.”
The suspect will be back in Kentwood District Court in September to determine if he’ll stand trial.