GRPD chief: ‘No doubt there’s been a spike’ in shootings

14 shootings in September and October

28th Street, strip mall, Grand Rapids, shooting
Police investigate at a strip mall along 28th Street in Grand Rapids where nine people were shot, one of them fatally, early Sunday. (Oct. 9, 2016)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After a sudden increase in shootings in Grand Rapids over the last two months, police say they are going to get “aggressive” in finding the shooters.

“There’s no doubt that there’s been a spike,” Grand Rapids Police Department Chief David Rahinsky said Tuesday, speaking only to 24 Hour News 8. “We’re concerned about it.”

After 24 Hour News 8’s research showed an increase, GRPD confirmed that between January and August, there were 20 shooting incidents in the city. In September and October alone, there were 14 shootings that left three people dead and some 20 more injured.

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Violent crime is generally low in Grand rapids compared to other large cities, but Rahinsky says the recent uptick is “unacceptable for us.”

“We know it’s unacceptable for the community,” he continued.

There haven’t been many arrests. Among the shootings that remains unsolved is the one that happened Oct. 9 during a party at a strip mall on 28th Street. One person was killed there and eight others injured. Tuesday, Rahinsky told 24 Hour News 8 that detectives believe at least two of the shootings since then were connected to that incident.

When asked if they were gang or drug related, Rahinsky replied, “As an ongoing, active investigation, when no arrests have occurred yet, I wouldn’t want to speculate or share publicly what it is we’re working.”

But he added, “We’ve got reason to believe several of them are connected and tied back to what occurred on that night.”

The Oct. 20 shooting of a woman along Eastern Avenue south of Wealthy Street outside a memorial for Juwan Boykin, the person killed along 28th Street, is believed to be connected, but police would not comment on what other incidents may be linked.

In response to recent spike, the department held a meeting Tuesday to focus solely on the shootings and is increasing efforts to track down those responsible.

“We’re going to take an aggressive stance,” Rahinsky said. “We’ll be out with additional resources. People will see more marked police cars in their neighborhoods, they’ll see more officers on foot patrol.”

Rahinsky says a big roadblock during these investigations is that witnesses — and even shooting victims themselves — have refused to talk with police. He pointed a national climate of tension between communities and their police departments as a reason for that.

Anyone with information about any of the shootings is asked to call GRPD at 616.456.3400 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.