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The events of yesterday have shaken our community to the roots and they test our will under fire. What happened on the streets and in the neighborhoods of Grand Rapids is so uncharacteristic that it boggles the mind to even imagine it could happen here.
First, I call us as a community to pray for the victims of this horrific violence. Seven people dead, two of them children. Two others, innocent bystanders, wounded. Three people held hostage. Neighborhoods traumatized. People all over the city deeply distressed. We are a caring community and I call you today to care for your neighbor. Talk with each other. Reassure one another. Pray for the friends and family members of the victims.
Second, I offer praise to our Grand Rapids Police Department. They performed their duties masterfully under the most adverse of circumstances. From their relentless pursuit of the suspect through the streets of Grand Rapids, under fire as they pursued, to the patient skillful negotiations we carried out that likely saved three lives… our police were courageous; our police showed professionalism. This community has shown its faith in and support of our police department. Yesterday we saw played out in full view through the media, just what a wise investment that is.
Area law enforcement joined us and I give special recognition to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department and Michigan State Police who joined us in direct intervention. Federal agencies were involved: ATF, FBI, and U.S. Marshall. Also the police departments of our neighboring cities of Wyoming, Kentwood, Walker, Rockford, and Kalamazoo who supported us throughout the event.
Third, I want to thank our citizens for their solid, active involvement with tips, with support and with appropriate response to the advice and instruction of the Police Department. Citizens, you performed well.
Finally, I want to compliment the media for the professionalism you showed last evening and into the night. I know you stretched some of your rules of confirming sources – and told us you were doing so – to inform and protect our citizens living in neighborhoods that were at risk. Thank you.
We have been shaken to the roots. But our roots are deep. And our faith is strong. And our commitment to our home is unshakable. Today we show why we are a great people.
Now serving in his second term, Mayor George Heartwell took office on January 1, 2004. During his tenure, City government has “gone green”, implementing a variety of environmental measures including purchase of renewable resource energy, use of alternative fuels in city vehicles, continued attention to water quality in the Grand River, and widespread implementation of energy conservation measures. In January of 2007 the United Nations recognized Grand Rapids as a “Center of Expertise” in sustainability. The Mayor has overseen a period of rapid economic development in Grand Rapids, even during an extended downturn in the Michigan economy. Mayor Heartwell also serves as President and CEO of Pilgrim Manor Retirement Community. He is married to Susan Heartwell who is the Executive Director of the Student Advancement Foundation. The Heartwells have three children and six grandchildren.