Unlocked and loaded: From Cascade Twp. to ‘Big Homie’

Target 8

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Eight days after hitting Cabela’s in Grandville in September 2017, some of the same teenaged thieves, this time armed with landscape rocks, struck Barracks 616 in Cascade Township.

They were in and out in 26 seconds — breaking their Cabela’s mark by 10 seconds — with 16 semi-automatic pistols.

They showed them off in a Snapchat video taken in their getaway car, some of them still with green price tags. They labeled one of the weapons a “007 ass gun,” a silver and gold STI DVC Open competition handgun with a mounted sight valued at $3,799.

Two of the Barracks thieves, it turns out, had already been arrested for the Cabela’s heist days earlier, one after a standoff, but court records show their moms had bailed them out of juvenile detention for a total of $150.

This time, the band of thieves that had sold the Cabela’s guns in Grand Rapids took a different route, from Barracks 616 straight 40 miles west to Muskegon Heights.

They told police they sold most of the Barracks 616 guns to a man they knew only as “Big Homie,” an alleged member of the Gangster Disciples. He got about $18,000 in firearms for $4,000.

But the gun thieves say they were robbed themselves minutes later in Muskegon Heights, returning to Grand Rapids with nothing.

Two months later in Muskegon, 29 bullet holes peppered a home at 441 Amity Avenue, the Dodge Magnum in the driveway and the barbecue grill. They somehow missed the man inside, who was in his bedroom.

>>Unlocked and Loaded: The suspects

Police found two ditched guns, including an STI International .45-caliber handgun taken in 26 seconds from Barracks 616.

The apparent target of the shooting, a recent prison parolee, didn’t want to talk to Target 8 about it.

A month later, in December 2017, after shots were fired in the 3200 block of Glendale Street in Muskegon Heights, police chased down and arrested a heroin dealer. They found a 9 mm semi-automatic stolen from Barracks in the snow.

That leaves 14 of the 16 Barracks guns still out there.

That’s not to mention the 23 guns stolen from Barracks 616 in July 2019. Twenty of those guns are still missing, the kind of numbers that worry Muskegon County Prosecutor D. J. Hilson.

“Ultimately, these stolen weapons are creating victims and that’s the last thing that we need in this community,” Hilson told Target 8.

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Target 8 tracked down “Big Homie,” identified in police records as Marcus Bradford, 39, the reported buyer of Barracks 616 guns. He has not been charged.

He was at Johnny O. Harris Memorial Park coaching peewee football.

“I coach the flag football, 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds,” Bradford said during a recent practice.

He denied trading in guns and denied ever being a part of the Gangster Disciples.

“I don’t even know how my name got brought up in it,” he said. “It was all a lie. I didn’t know nothing about any of it.”

Police said they had evidence showing otherwise.

One of the Grand Rapids thieves told police “Big Homie” was wearing a cast on his left leg at the time of the sale, which police said helped them identify him. Police said Bradford was in a cast because he’d been shot in a recent altercation with a fellow gang member.

Bradford, whose criminal record includes assaults, attempted robbery, fraud and resisting police, told Target 8 he had been shot six times during a fight at a bar a week earlier.

“In my leg, two times in my thigh and both hips,” he said, pointing out a deep, wide scar on his calf.

Police said phone records also proved the Barracks 616 thieves were in Muskegon Heights the day of the reported gun sale.

When asked about the “Big Homie” nickname, Bradford said: “There’s a lot of Big Homies wandering around here.”

Court records show police found nothing when they raided Bradford’s home on Sixth Street in Muskegon Heights, looking for the Barracks 616 guns.

Bradford is out of jail on a $200,000 bond after his arrest in March for assault and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

“There’s a lot of guns around here,” Bradford said. “It’s an epidemic right now. There’s been a lot of shootings around Muskegon.”

Our investigation continues Wednesday on woodtv.comSome gun shops are reacting with beefed-up security. Some, police say, aren’t doing enough.

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