KALAMAZOO, Mich. (May 28, 2014) — Parents and officials in Kalamazoo are speaking out about the violence in the community after a teenager was shot and killed.
On Memorial Day, Michael Day, 13, died after being shot in the torso while riding his bike in the Edison neighborhood. Kalamazoo Public Safety officers said the incident stemmed from an argument that took place throughout the weekend.
They tell FOX 17 that a person of interest is in custody on unrelated charges.
Kalamazoo City Commissioner Stephanie Moore said it’s time for parents and the community to come together in an effort to protect the youth.
“This could be you. Mike Day could be your child,” Moore said. “Your child could be hurt in a fight, your child could be shot by a random bullet. These bullets have no names on them and they have no sense of direction so we have to do the best we can to keep children safe.”
It’s a process, Moore said, that starts with parents becoming engaged in what their children are doing.
“A lot of times our kids are out here six hours, eight hours, 10 hours a day without supervision. Mom hasn’t called, hasn’t texted, has not even laid eyes on her child since they got out of school at two o’clock and now it’s nine o’clock at night,” Moore said. “We can’t just rely on 911 every day; our police officers are not babysitters, ya know, they’re here to protect and to serve. Yes they have a role and a responsibility, but this is not solely their issue.”
Stacy Salters, a member with Mothers for Hope, a non-profit organization, said children need to have a safe place that they can go to. In 2013, there were nine murders in Kalamazoo. There are two so far this year, according to the KPS website. Salters said violence struck her family nearly six years ago when her son was badly beaten. She said he survived but that no mother should live in fear of losing their child.
“It makes me feel for other mothers who didn’t have the opportunity to reclaim their children after something like this,” Salters said. “My heart goes out to any parent… no parent should have to lose their child at the hands of another. Things have been building in the community for quite a while now, and all the communities. It’s not just Kalamazoo. It’s not just the north side, not just the south side. It’s everywhere.”
Moore said there are several places across Kalamazoo where parents can get their children involved in activities. She said parents should also be active with their children and attend these activities with them.
“Parents have to have an expectation of their child. ‘Listen, there’s something going on from 4 to 7 p.m., I expect you to go there and stay there and remain supervised,’ but what’s happening is the opposite,” Moore said. “You have to know where your kids are and you have to be responsible for them, especially when you unleash them into the community… We can’t expect the businesses, the non-profits, all these programs to raise our children. We have to do a better job at working together, supporting each other, to raise our children.”
Stopping the violence is something Moore said will also take help from the community. She said when people see acts of violence they need to report it. She said often times, public safety officers will be called to a scene, where people claim to not see anything.
“This not about snitching or being a tattle-tail, this is about investing in your quality of life,” Moore said. “If you want to maintain your home ownership, if you want to maintain your children being able to walk and play on your street that you pay taxes on, then when things are happening around you and in front of you, you have to say something. If all you’re gonna rely on is 911 and they come and you don’t tell them what’s going on, what’s the use?”
Here’s a list of places where children, teenagers and adults can get involved in after school and summer activities: