Teen on GR officer: ‘I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them’

Javon Long
Javon Long's cousin (left) beams while talking about his recovery. (Oct. 4, 2016)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A teenager who was wounded in the shooting that killed his stepfather says he wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for the Grand Rapids police officer first on the scene after the shots were fired.

The shooting happened Sept. 26 at a home on Eastern Avenue near Oakdale Street.

eastern avenue, oakdale street, shooting, grand rapids
Emergency responders on the scene of a shooting along Eastern Avenue near Oakdale Street SE. (Sept. 26, 2016)

Relatives say Joseph Banks was killed shielding his stepson, Javon Long, and sister from the gunfire.

Joseph Banks
An undated courtesy photo of Joseph Banks.

Long, 15, was shot in the neck. The teen was unconscious and not breathing before the officer showed up and began CPR, Long’s family said. The officer revived Long before paramedics arrived.

“I just want to thank them,” Long said. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”

Long was released from the hospital Tuesday, in time to attend Banks’ funeral.

Police arrested Martez McLaughlin, 21, a day after the shooting. Officers said McLaughlin confessed to the crime.

Martez McLaughlin
A 2015 mug shot of Martez McLaughlin from the Kent County Correctional Facility.

Long said Banks was like a father to him. He’d been married to the teen’s mother for the past 13 years.

“He was funny and I was real close to him,” Long said. “We just had a good connection.”

Long’s recovery was a silver lining to a dark day for his family. Loved ones cheered as he entered the room Tuesday afternoon for Banks’ visitation.

“I was there from Day One and I watched the whole process,” said Ericka Harris, Long’s cousin. “I’m amazed that he’s sitting here right now!”

Long has a long road to recovery. His family has started a GoFundMe page to raise money to cover his medical expenses.