MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WOOD) — Video of a press conference with Muskegon Heights’ interim police chief has gone viral, and residents are praising his straightforward approach to dealing with violence in the community and the media’s questions.
The video was recorded Tuesday night following a shooting outside Muskegon Heights High School that left three victims with gunshot wounds. A sheriff’s deputy also shot and wounded a fourth person, the alleged shooter, who was charged Wednesday.
During a press conference after the shooting, Interim Chief Dr. Joseph Thomas did not bite his tongue while answering questions from the media.
“We want to send a very, very strong message to the people,” he said. “…They decided to start some unwanted activity. And when you do that, folks — I don’t mean to be mean and nasty — but we’re going to finish it for you. This is the way it’s going to be. You’re not going to take over this area. You’re not going to take over this county. We are going to stop you by any means necessary.”
Thomas shut down questions from reporters who wondered why a boys basketball game that preceded the shooting wasn’t canceled after police got word of safety concerns — a move that has been made in the past during similar situations.
“We’re talking about what happened tonight, not what happened in the past. We were also involved in a civil war. You want to bring that up? No,” he said.
During parts of the press conference, a cellphone can be heard ringing with a tone from the iconic western “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”
Watch the chief’s press conference below. App users can click here to watch.
Many Muskegon Heights residents liked the chief’s strong words and shared the video on social media.
Praises also poured into City Hall. New Mayor Kimberly Sam said calls and emails flooded her office on Wednesday.
“I could see why so many of our citizens were eager and excited about the passion that he shows because it’s the way so many of us feel,” she said. “Someone stood up and took a stand and defended the city in spite of everything that comes against it, and I think that’s what resonated with our people.”
As interim chief, Thomas will help select the new, permanent chief of the Muskegon Heights Police Department.