Woman shot attending GR memorial for man killed by gunfire

eastern avenue, baxter street, grand rapids police department
Grand Rapids police at the scene of a shooting along Eastern Avenue near Baxter Street SE. (Oct. 20, 2016)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The family members gathered to mourn the loss of a young man shot to death last weekend became the target of gunfire as they left the repast following a funeral service.

A 52-year-old woman was shot and critically wounded in the Thursday-evening incident along Eastern Avenue south of Wealthy Street. Witnesses say someone began firing as the family left their gathering at the Urban Family Ministries building at around 7 p.m.

The family was mourning the loss of Juwan Boykin, a young man who was one of nine people shot at a party along 28th Street last weekend. Boykin was the only victim who did not survive his injuries.

“To me that is sacred ground,” said Elijah Libbett, activities coordinator at UFM. He was there the night of the shooting. “Urban Family is trying to do what they can for the community, and for somebody to come down there shooting – that’s wrong.”

Police said the woman who was shot was in critical but stable condition. Her name had not been released. Libbett said he believed she was one of Boykin’s family members.

The day after the shooting Libbett, who also owns a restaurant next door to the ministries building, lined up posters featuring the faces of young people who lost their lives to violence. He says he hopes what happened Thursday night highlights a need for change.

“I hear the saying, ‘Black Lives Matter’. I have to ask that question – do it really matter? I got 27 pictures right now in front of my restaurant of kids that’s been killed due to street violence and every last one of them was killed by another black. So, do we matter to each other?” said Libbet, who is black. “That’s the question.”

As of Friday afternoon, Grand Rapids police said no arrests had been made in either shooting. Investigators are still looking for tips from the public.

Libbett says he has no regrets about hosting Boykin’s family for their repast. He said that’s what the ministry is all about and the shooting only highlights the need for it in the community.

“It only makes our mission stronger,” Libbett said. “It only makes me move.”