GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A Grand Rapids business owner said he is fed up with the violence he has seen in his neighborhood.
Ronald O’Berry owns Rinaldi Pizza on the corner of Diamond Ave. and Fulton Ave. on the city’s southeast side. On August 21st, his employee, Vinny Johnson was walking home from work when he was shot in an armed robbery.
Two months later Johnson would die as a result of the injuries he sustained during the robbery.
“I’ve walked that same walk Vinny walked many times because I wanted to see what he saw,” said O’Berry.
During those walks he started to develop a plan to take back his community.
“Don’t wait until something happens, take care of the problem before it happens, that way we can end up with a few less people with bullets in them,” he said.
It’s called Vinny’s neighborhood watch, named in honor of the father of three shot and killed while walking home.
O’Berry said he’s looking for volunteers willing to give up two hours of their night, walk the neighborhood in groups of four, and look out for suspicious activity.
“We’re going to log the neighborhoods that things are happening in, the houses that things are happening in, cars that things are happening in,” said O’Berry.
The information collected during these patrols will be handed over to police.
“What they will do with this information? I don’t know,” he said.
O’Berry said he has mailed a letter to police, the same letter he mailed FOX 17, informing the department of his plan. So far he said he hasn’t heard back from anyone in the agency.
He says the response from people in the neighborhood has been overwhelmingly supportive.
A sign-up sheet sits on the counter in the restaurant.
O’Berry said he’s looking for volunteers who take pride in their community, not people looking to take matters into their own hands.
He said he’s not interested in people wanting to carry a gun or act out against the crime, just those who can observe and report.
So far 17 people have signed up to take part in the neighborhood watch. O’Berry said he will start contacting the volunteers and work out a schedule shortly.
Those looking to volunteer can do so at the Rinaldi Restaurant.