7-year-old shot 3 times: ‘I felt like I’m going to die’

J’Anthony Bell speaks to 24 Hour News 8 on July 3, 2017.


MUSKEGON HEIGHTS — Seven-year-old J’Anthony Bell was playing tag at his friend’s house Sunday evening when he felt a sting in his face.

He’d been hit three times by gunfire — on the left side of his face, his upper chest and his left wrist. It appears all three shots grazed him.

The shooting on Ivory Avenue also killed a man, who died Monday at the hospital, police said.

Muskegon Heights Police Chief Joseph Thomas Jr. said police arrested a “strong” person of interest after a foot chase on Monday. He said they also recovered a weapon.

J’Anthony, a second-grader, said he didn’t hear the shots.

Muskegon Heights, Ivory Avenue
Muskegon Heights police investigate after a man and child were shot on Ivory Avenue. (July 2, 2017)

But, he now knows what a bullet can do.

“I felt like I’m going to die,” he said.

“Right here, right here and right there,” J’Anthony said, pointing to the bandages that cover the wounds.

“It was scary,” J’Anthony said on Monday.

His mom said he’s lucky to be alive.

“Not just one, it was three (shots),” his mom, Ladiedre Bell, said. “So my baby is a miracle baby.”

Police stopped short of calling it a gunfight, but said there were the distinct sounds of two different guns.

The gunfire on Ivory Avenue, between Ray and Dyson streets, hit a man in the face, killing him. Police say the man, whose name was not released, may have also fired a weapon.

The chief said his detectives and state police continued working on leads.

J’Anthony was playing with his big brother and a friend around 7 p.m. Sunday, a few doors down from their home.

His mom said neighbors were lighting off fireworks all afternoon.

J’Anthony wanted to go outside.

“He was just waking up from a nap, so I let him go outside and play,” his mom said.

Then, she and J’Anthony’s stepfather heard a loud argument down the street, outside, then shots, maybe 15 to 20, she said.

“I was looking for my child at the same time the gunshots were going,” his mom said. “I didn’t care about the gunshots. I cared about my child.”

J’Anthony says his brother pushed him down to protect him.

His stepfather said he ran outside and found J’Anthony.

“Once he saw his mom, he opened his mouth and started crying and that’s when we seen all the blood start pouring out his mouth,” stepfather Darnell Wynn said.

Other neighbors said they pulled children into their homes once the shooting started.

“They just need to do something, they need to lock down the violence,” J’Anthony’s mom said. “They need to throw away the guns.”

“They should not shoot,” J’Anthony said.