Gunshot victim’s grandmother: ‘Why is he dead?’

Ja-Mall Kitchens was shot in the head as he walked in Muskegon

Ja-Mall Kitchens
An undated courtesy photo of Ja-mall Kitchens.


MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Essie Grissom is too numb to be angry. She can’t understand the violence that claimed the life of her grandson, the teenager she’d raised since birth.

“I want justice. That’s going to be a closure for me,” Grissom told 24 Hour News 8 on Thursday, the day after her grandson, 19-year-old Ja-mall Kitchens, was gunned down on the street.

“Ja-mall is like my child,” she continued. “I cut his cord at the hospital and he’s never been out of my house since.”

Police told her that her grandson was walking on E. Laketon Avenue near Mc Ilwraith Street, west of Getty Street, about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday when he was shot in the head. She said he was walking to his godmother’s house to spend the night and was just a few blocks away.

“Everyone will tell you he’s a good kid, which he was, but then I ask myself, why is he dead? Why is he dead?” she said. “He didn’t belong to any gangs, or nothing. He didn’t do drugs, so you know, just to have someone shot in the head seems like a bit much.”

Her grandson had recently enrolled at Muskegon Community College and wanted to become a truck driver.

“He had some goals, he had some goals and some plans,” she said.

But police told her he also had an enemy and that they had recently gotten into a fight.

“He won the fight, just a fistfight, and then the kid comes back and retaliates,” Grissom said. “I don’t know what the deal with these kids are. I mean, if they get into an argument, they get a gun.”

She said police told her they have leads on the killer.

“Justice to me is to find the people that are responsible and let them understand what it’s like to be in jail the rest of your life. That’s justice to me,” she said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Muskegon Police Department at 231.724.6750 or Silent Observer at 231.72.CRIME (27462).

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