By: Emily Guiles
The Muskegon Heights area has been under stress of violence lately allegedly because of gang and drug affiliated activity. In the month of September of 2015 there have been an increasing amount of gun violence and shooting deaths, prompting Muskegon Heights Police to heighten their guard and bring in outside assistance from the Muskegon Police force and State Troopers.
Amount the shooting victims in Muskegon Heights one was Darnell Byrd III, who was shot multiple times and left in an alley, found at 4:15 am. A week prior to the fatal shooting Byrd was involved in a shooting that left one dead and two others in critical condition, in this instance Byrd had received only minor injuries.
The shooting Byrd had been involved in prior to his death took place at the city’s East Park Manor, and resulted in the death of Thedrick Bryant.
Another victim of violence in September was Marquis Grider- Sims, who was shot in the head on September 4th in the middle of Amsterdam Avenue. Paramedics tried to save and revive him in the street but were unsuccessful.
On September 10th a possible tragedy was averted when the staff and student body of Muskegon Heights Public School Academy alerted authorities to an intruder in the building who was later found out to be in the possession of a sawed off shotgun.
The violence of September has not been strictly cordoned off to this month, on July 18th of 2015, Vernell Antwan Cornelius was shot in the 2300 block of Wood St in an alley. The case was being investigated as a homicide and the county’s Major Crime Task Force was assisting on the case.
In the midst of the violence Muskegon Heights Tigers were supposed to play against Muskegon Catholic Central in a home football game, however due to the safety concerns Muskegon Catholic Central decided to opt out of the game. Had the game gone on there would have been increased security and there was even speculation to a helicopter being on stand by.
Not willing to let violence win out in their community, Kelly and Judy McMahon decided to do something about it. They organized a meet and pray ceremony that started at Temple United Methodist Church and featured Nate Johnson who is the pastor of fledgling Kingdom Life Church.
The first home game of the Muskegon Heights Tigers’ season had been postponed three weeks due to the safety concerns and like the McMahons the community refused to succumb to the violence in the streets. Instead of partaking in a traditional tailgating celebration a group of citizens held a block party on Hume Ave next to the high school. The organizer, Angela Locke said, “We had to show the kids we supported them.”
It is the strength, not the violence of this community that should be remembered.