Kentwood Police Still Looking For Mall Parking Lot Shooter

Posted at 7:53 PM, Dec 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-03 19:53:15-05

KENTWOOD, Mich. — The parking lots were still busy at the Woodland Mall in Kentwood Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after several shots were fired in the parking lot outside of the J.C. Penney store at around 6:45 p.m. Monday.

A bullet hole was found as far away as the Gold and Silver Exchange, which is in the same complex but some distance away from the south parking lot by J.C. Penney.

The passenger side of a car window was also shattered after a bullet went through the windshield.

Nobody was injured in the shooting, but Kentwood Police Department said they are still trying to figure out who is responsible.

They say there may have been as many as five people who were targeted during the shooting.  However, Police Chief Tom Hillen said those people were trying to leave the scene when they arrived and were not as cooperative as hoped.

He said they had found a couple shell casings and bullet fragments which will be sent in for testing to determine whether the gun can be linked to other shootings.

Hillen said they don’t have good enough video from the security cameras in the parking lot to determine exactly who the suspects might be.

Meanwhile, many shoppers feel this is all part of living in a larger city.  All those that we talked to said they would continue to shop at Woodland.

“It’s a little scary but it’s scary everywhere, not anymore than anywhere else,” said Debbie Tavolacci, Woodland Mall shopper. “It`s sad, very sad, but it`s part of shopping in an urban area.”

“I think that those things are isolated,” said Javier Vasquez, Eaton County resident.

The mall has seen its share of fights and other acts of disruption around the holidays.

In 2012, a viewer sent us video showing a Black Friday fight that ended with suspects getting pepper sprayed and tackled by police.

In 2011, a fight broke out the day after Christmas, which was caught on security video.

During that brawl, people started getting punched following a disagreement between two groups.

“I will be assigning an additional patrol unit to the parking lot area of the mall,” said Chief Hillen.

Hillen was part of a patrol review conducted with now retired Kentwood Police Chief Richard Mattice.  At that time, he said calls for disruptive customers had dropped dramatically after they added an extra patrol officer at the mall.

Calls were down by 54 percent in 2012 compared to the last few months of 2011.

Meanwhile, assaults at the mall also appeared to be down an average of 81 percent in 2012 compared to how often they were happening in 2011.

“Some days of the week have gone down by as much as 87 percent so it makes a big difference,” Mattice said.

“We have been able to reduce incidents of disorderly conduct,” said Hillen. “But, when you have a shots fired incidence, that raises the awareness of that and we had a similar incident maybe 30 days ago.”

Hillen said there were no bullets recovered from that incident.

He said callers just reported hearing popping noises that sounded like a gunshot.

Kentwood police are asking anyone with any information about the shootings to call them at 616-698-6580.