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Grand Rapids leaders ask for community's help to stop surge in "senseless" gun violence

Dustin Dwyer
Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids police chief and community leaders are urging residents to get involved to stop the surge in gun violence in the city.

Grand Rapids has seen 19 homicides so far this year, more than in all of 2019. On Thursday, police said a stray bullet hit a 2-year-old in the arm.

“A two year old is our future,” said Grand Rapids police chief Eric Payne.  “And for that baby to have to experience gunfire, senseless gunfire, it’s not acceptable. It has to stop.”

Payne said the department has been receiving more calls over the past few months for shots fired.

“And sometimes it’s just random shooting up in the air,” he said.

He attributed the rise in gun violence to the high number of illegal guns on the streets and the impact of the pandemic. He said there doesn’t appear to be much connection between the many gun-related incidents in the city.

“This isn’t an isolated area,” Payne said. “I mean, it’s happening throughout the city.”

Payne spoke during a press conference Friday morning, along with other community leaders who urged residents to get involved to stop the violence.

“This is really a time for everybody in our community to get involved,” said Jerry Bishop, pastor at LifeQuest Ministries in Grand Rapids. “It’s not just about law enforcement, it’s not just about our faith community. It’s a need for our entire community.”

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