GRAND RAPIDS, MI — A man shot at a birthday party held down the gunman and likely saved several others from being killed early Saturday morning, the victim’s father said.
Phillip Williams Sr., whose sons Derecko Jamal Martin and Phillip Duane Williams were shot just after midnight Saturday, March 16, said Martin was on top of the gunman when bullets ripped through his head, neck and stomach.
Martin, 30, died later at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital. Phillip Duane Williams, 23, underwent surgery Saturday morning, his father said. He was shot in the arm and leg and is expected to recover.
“He was just trying to help,” Phillip Williams Sr. said of Martin. “He saved a lot of people from getting shot.”
On Friday night, Martin was at his cousin’s apartment inside 3241 Marshall Ave. SE for a birthday party for Phillip Duane Williams. Their father was at the party earlier in the night and left around 8 p.m. When he left, the party was small and calm. He figured his sons were safe.
Early Saturday morning, a nephew woke up Phillip Williams Sr. and told him his sons had been shot. He looked at his phone and saw 14 text messages and many missed calls.
“I was like, ‘What?’ It scared me so bad,” Phillip Williams Sr. said Saturday afternoon outside the building where his sons were shot.
He does not know what led to the shooting or who would want to harm his sons. Grand Rapids police investigators believe a group of uninvited guests arrived at the party and an argument started. One of the uninvited guests took out a handgun.
Martin tackled the man with gun and held him down, Phillip Williams Sr. said. Struggling, the man started shooting.
People inside the apartment Saturday afternoon did not want to talk about the shooting. Neighbors claimed they were not home when it happened. It appeared as though someone punched a hole in the wall outside the apartment. The door was smeared with black dust, likely from police dusting for fingerprints.
Phillip Williams Sr. was at the apartment Saturday afternoon looking for answers. He started to cry when talking about his sons. A single tear clung to his cheek. Neighbors stopped and expressed their condolences.
Martin loved his three children, his father said. He was a single father who stayed home and cared for his kids. Martin also has a child on the way, his father said.
“I’m so mad he won’t be able to see his own,” Phillip Williams Sr. said.
A 2005 story in The Grand Rapids Press detailed Martin’s struggles after someone stole his state ID card and committed felonies using his name as an alias. The felonies were attributed to Martin and made finding a job difficult. He would attach a copy of a letter clearing him of the felonies, but it did not seem to help. Employers would never grant him an interview to explain.
“This is messing up someone’s life. Your character — it destroys that, ” Martin said in 2005.
Police are still investigating. Anyone with information should call the police at (616) 456-3604 or Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345. (X)