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Police make plea for public cooperation following week of gun violence

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne spoke to media Friday along with other community leaders
Posted at 5:25 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 17:25:40-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Police and community leaders got together Friday morning to make a plea for the public's cooperation in investigating a rash of violent gun crimes.

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne began the meeting saying, “It's frustrating. It should be frustrating to everyone.”

A 23-year-old man was shot and killed near the Wealthy Street Market on Wednesday. Jalen Hoblet-Arnold has since been charged with open murder in relation to the killing.

There has already been 19 people killed in Grand Rapids within 2020. That is up from 18 people killed in all of 2019.

“There's 19 lives in the city of Grand Rapids that have been ended, but then if we hold these people accountable, there is probably 19 people that will go to prison for maybe the rest of their lives,” said Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker.

In addition to the man killed near Wealthy Street Market, there was a 2-year-old injured on Thursday when a bullet struck her in the arm near Burton Street and Union Avenue.

“I don't think people realize the amount of resources that go into any sort of investigation like that, be it a shooting or a homicide,” Becker said.

Thursday saw another 2 people injured in separate incidents.

A victim was grazed by a bullet on Lane Avenue and then a woman was injured by shattering glass following shots fired near Quarry Avenue and 11th Street.

Magdalena Rivera, executive director for East Hills Council of Neighbors, also spoke at the meeting Friday. She and others canvassed the streets around the Wealthy Street Market following Wednesday's shooting to gauge reactions from residents and business owners.

“Of course we have the community unrest going on between law enforcement and the community," Rivera said.

"But when somebody has lost a life or a child has been endangered, I think we just need to find a space to actually meet and actually come together for the sake of what we are having to work through.”

In addition to several community leaders, members of Chief Payne's recently-formed Community Police Advisory Board were in attendance to offer their insight towards a solution.

Willie Gholston, Senior Pastor at First Community AME Church and member of the advisory board, told FOX 17, “This violence, it reaches all of us. A bullet doesn't discriminate, and words don't either. And so we have to learn how to bridge the gap when it comes to pulling down some of the walls that are there.”

Everyone in attendance eager to engage members of the public in efforts to curb the concerning spike in violent gun crimes.

If you have any information about any of the recent shootings, you are asked to contact the Grand Rapids Police Department at (616) 456-3400.