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Lansing community leaders seek solutions after city reaches homicide record

Sirens activated on a police cruiser
Scott Rodgerson
Sirens activated on a police cruiser

A group of Lansing pastors are proposing new idea to help the city to address a record high number of homicides.

That's after Noah Sisung, 18, and Elton Johnson Jr., 34, were both shot and killed in October, bringing the total number of homicide cases for the year up to 23.

Johnson’s death remains unsolved, though an arrest has been made in the death of Sisung. Officers have been working overtime because of the spike in violence, according to Interim Lansing Police Chief Ellery Sosebee.

The city has already surpassed a record set in 2020 for homicide cases.

“Unfortunately, there’s only so many detectives that we have,” Sosebee said.

In response, the Assembly for Lansing Pastors submitted a proposal addressing gun violence and prevention, along with other areas of concern to Mayor Andy Schor.

We were asking that we have a seat at the table, so that we could make decisions and provide resources to the mayor and the administration to help resolve these issues.
Rev. Terrence King, Kingdom Ministries

Rev. Melvin Jones of Union Missionary Baptist Church brought the faith leaders together after two students at Everett High School died because of gun violence.

Rev. Terrence King of Kingdom Ministries is also a part of the group.

“We were asking that we have a seat at the table, so that we could make decisions and provide resources to the mayor and the administration to help resolve these issues,” King said.

Sosebee said one reason he thinks gun violence is increasing is because weapons are getting into the hands of “short-sighted" youth, who do not understand that their actions today have consequences tomorrow. But the interim chief is asking people for patience as officers work to solve cases. He says the proper evidence needs to be gathered for prosecution.

“I understand the situation that the friends and the families are in. They want closure, and they want it right now,” Sosebee said. “That's not lost on me. However, we got to make sure that we have everything in a row.”

Michael Lynn Jr. is the founder of The Village Lansing.

The south Lansing non-profit works to prevent youth violence and support families. He attributes the increase in crime to a lack of money allocated towards gun violence prevention as well as relative inaction from the faith-based community and the city government.

In early November, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed a $30 million investment in violence prevention throughout Michigan.

The funding would come from the American Rescue Plan if approved by the state legislature.

I'm really concerned that Lansing is kind of in a downward spiral.
Michael Lynn Jr., The Village Lansing

Even with limited funding, Lynn said his nonprofit has been able to make an impact because of its relationships with young people in the community. But he’s not confident just an influx of cash will solve the problems.

“It won't…trickle down to the people doing the work,” Lynn said. “So, I'm not hopeful that there's going to be a change. I'm really concerned that Lansing is kind of in a downward spiral that I don't know will be fixed until we get the right people in place and in power that really actually care about the city."

The Assembly for Lansing Pastors is one of the groups that Lynn said has not been actively involved in dealing with addressing the root cause of the issue.

Rev. King says the group expresses their condolences to the lives that have been lost.

“We, again, want to express our condolences for the lives that have been lost and any inaction that we may have been involved in or inattentiveness to the level and degree that as faith leaders we believe we need to be involved in to help bring some resolution to these issues.” 

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