GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As soon as Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack heard about the death of Romito Jones, he made a Facebook post about him and included an article on bail reform.
“We will not let him be a statistic. We will find his killers. He was at the signing of the jail reform bill in Lansing. He is in the new Hillary Scholten campaign ad as an inspiration to remind us who we are fighting for,” Womack wrote on Tuesday morning October 6.
The article featured a picture of Jones standing a few feet away from Attorney General Dana Nessel. Womack said Jones fought for social justice reform.
“He always had a good sense of humor. Nobody could meet him without having a good laugh,” Womack said during a Zoom interview on Tuesday afternoon. “He was very interested in the upcoming elections and was volunteering with Hillary Scholten's campaign. He also had some post out about he was going to go out and vote.”
Womack said Jones called Scholten yesterday eager to find out when the ad will air.
However, Tuesday morning, just after midnight, Jones was shot and killed on Franklin Street SE near a party store, police said in a press release.
“There has been another death earlier this year near that party store. We don’t blame the party store but we know there are lots of places where young people go to shop. People may see them in public and end up bringing harm to them,” Womack said. “So one of things we’ve been talking about is using the technology shotspotters."
Womack said shotspotters automatically alert the police in real time when a shooting happens. Implementing shotspotters would give them a better chance at catching the suspects.
At this time, no arrests have been made in Jones' case, police stated.
However Womack believes that the community and police building a solid relationship together is a good step toward ending gun violence.
“So many families are being touched by these deaths. So many young people are losing friends and cousins and brothers and sisters and loved ones,” Womack said. “So now it’s beginning to involve the entire community and I don’t think there could be a better time for us to come out for National Night Out than tonight.”
GRPD held their annual National Night Out event on Tuesday evening at Jaycee Park on Kalamazoo Avenue. Police officers, K9 handlers, EMTs and community organizations filled a parking lot and spoke to people as they drove by. Some gave away Halloween candy to the kids while the adults chatted with law enforcement officials.
GRPD said events like these are all about community engagement. Their hope is to build bonds with the residents. Womack hopes it happens soon. He believes it'll bring justice to the families affected by gun violence.
“Every time that somebody gets away with murder, it kind of tells the next person they can get away with murder,” Womack said. ”It’s beginning to snowball in the city of Grand Rapids.”