Murder rate in Grand Rapids hits 4-year high

Grand Rapids double homicide
Grand Rapids police work at the scene where two homicide victims were found, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The murder of tow truck driver Gerald Love marks the 14th homicide in Grand Rapids in 2017, the highest total in four years.

But detectives urge the public not to read too much into the numbers.

“What you have to take from it is, you have to look at the individual cases,” GRPD Lt. Kristen Rogers told 24 Hour News 8 Friday. “It doesn’t mean that the city is any less safe or that things are going rampant or anything to that nature.”

A year-by-year look shows the murder rate in Grand Rapids has risen slowly every year since 2014, when it was at a 50-year low.

>>App users: Tap for chart of Grand Rapids homicide numbers since 2013.

“I don’t believe that there’s necessarily a reason why it’s climbing this year,” Rogers said.

Gerald Love’s family said he was gunned down while responding to a call of keys locked in a vehicle Monday night on Crawford Street. Police have not yet made any arrests in the case.

In fact, exactly one half of the murders in Grand Rapids in 2017 remain unsolved. But Rogers said it can take time, noting that 81 percent of homicides from 2013 to 2016 have now resulted in arrests.

“As with anything, it’s a process. It’s not as simple as you see on TV with ‘C.S.I.’ or a lot of those shows,” Rogers said.

While it’s difficult to determine exactly what could help bring the murder rate back down in Grand Rapids, police said what can help them solve the cases is clear: more cooperation by witnesses. Those unwilling to talk to detectives are a major hindrance in the investigations, Rogers said.

“You really have to look at the victims and their families and realize that the people that are getting shot are human. And whatever happened to them or whatever circumstances, they did not deserve it,” she said.

Gerald Love’s family will lay him to rest on Saturday, Nov. 25. The funeral starts at 11 a.m. at Lifequest Urban Outreach Center Church on Fisk Street. Visitation will be held Friday afternoon from 1-5 p.m. at Brown Funeral Home on Jefferson Avenue

Anyone with information on the murder of Gerald Love or another homicide in Grand Rapids is asked to call GRPD at 616.456.3400 or Silent Observer 616.774.2345.