Dice game may have led to fatal shooting

Grand Rapids police are investigating a shooting on Howard Street. (May 28, 2015)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A witness to the Grand Rapids’ fifth homicide of the year says anger over a dice game led to the shooting.

Investigators with the Grand Rapids Police Department declined to confirm a motive in the killing of 20-year-old Jalen Braswell-Thompson.

But the father of a witness to the crime said his son was in the driveway of a Howard Street SE home just before 7 a.m. Thursday and watched the victim and suspect playing dice.

An undated courtesy photo of Jalen Braswell-Thompson.
(An undated courtesy photo of Jalen Braswell-Thompson.)

Bates Ministries Executive Director Rev. Bryan Blakely told 24 Hour News 8 that his son, who he said was not involved in the game, said the suspected shooter lost the dice game and became upset, so he shot Braswell-Thompson.

When GRPD officers arrived at the house in the area of Hall and Union streets, they found someone performing CPR on Braswell-Thompson. He was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

GRPD said Braswell-Thompson was shot once.

No one had been arrested as of Thursday evening.

COMMUNITY WORKING WITH POLICE CAN ‘SOLVE A LOT OF ISSUES’

“For something like this to hit close to home for me was a little shocking,” Blakely said Thursday of Braswell-Thompson’s death.

He learned of it when he got a phone call from a GRPD captain about the shooting at the home where his son and daughter live.

“They informed me that my son and my daughter were OK, ’cause they didn’t want me to hear about it on the news,” he said.

There was another reason the killing hit close to home for Blakely, a candidate for the open Third Ward City Commission seat. He has been part of the effort to improve relations between the community and GRPD.

“We have to work with them. They’re part of our community as well,” Blakely said. “I want to live in a safe, thriving community.”

He’s hoping his efforts, especially those aimed at building trust, convince other witnesses in future crimes come forward.

“When you have the community that are more in tune with each other and with what’s going on and they’re working together, you can solve a lot of our issues,” Blakely said.

Thursday’s shooting is the fifth homicide this year in Grand Rapids. There were a total of six in 2014 — part of a year with record-low crime in the city.

VICTIM WAS PREVIOUSLY SHOT IN 2014

Braswell-Thompson was also shot less than a year ago and a separate incident, court records show.

Jermaine Jamal Allen was charged with six counts on Oct. 21, 2014 after allegedly shooting Braswell-Thompson in Grand Rapids. The details of that shooting were not immediately known.

Jermaine Allen's mug shot from the Kent County Correctional Facility.
(Jermaine Allen’s mug shot from the Kent County Correctional Facility.)

In court on the same day Braswell-Thompson died, Allen rejected a plea agreement in the October case. He’s scheduled to stand trial starting on June 29 on six counts:

  • Assault with intent to murder
  • Assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder
  • Carrying a concealed weapon
  • Lying to a peace officer during a violent crime investigation
  • Felony firearms
  • Possession of a firearm by a felon
  • Being a second-offense habitual offender

Allen is being held in the Kent County jail without bond as he awaits trial.

Records show Braswell-Thompson bonded out of jail only about a week before his death after being arrested on drug charges.

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