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A father wants answers after 16-year-old son killed in celebratory shots fired on New Year's

Despite police saying it's unclear if the shooting was accidental or intentional at this time, Ivory Sr. believes his 16-year-old son's death was murder.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The family of a 16-year-old boy shot and killed early New Year's Day in Grand Rapids is pleading for answers and justice.

It happened near the intersection of Blaine Avenue SE and Boston Street SE on the city's southeast side. Police say it was the first shooting death of the new year in Grand Rapids.

According to Police Chief Eric Winstrom, Joseph Ivory Jr., or 'Jo Jo,' was hanging out with a large group of friends firing celebratory shots into the air to ring in the new year.

They were gathered at a cul-de-sac on Blaine Avenue SE shortly before midnight.

Ring home surveillance video, provided by a neighbor, captures the shots fired, and 'Jo Jo' seemingly trying to drive away from the area after he was shot, but he ends up crashing into two cars on Boston Street and passing away.

His father, Joseph Ivory Sr., tells 13 ON YOUR SIDE he was shot twice.

Despite the chief saying it's unclear if the shooting was accidental or intentional at this time, Ivory Sr. believes it was murder, and his son's fellow gang members set him up.

He's hoping someone will come forward with answers. 

"My message to the people who did this to my son is to please turn yourself in and face your punishment," said Ivory Sr. "That was my only son. I have four daughters and I have one son. And I'm hurting. I'm hurting a lot."

Although Jo Jo was in a gang, recently becoming a father was his motivating factor to turn his life around, his father says.

"He's very loving, but he just got caught up in the wrong crowd. He was ready to leave that crowd alone and to raise his son."

In addition, Chief Winstrom said the car that Jo Jo was driving the night he was killed was a stolen BMW.

"I think the gang life he was involved in was sort of treating it as a game," said Winstrom. "Being around people who are okay with carrying with illegally possessed guns and stealing cars and driving them around just for fun."

Jo Jo's father also believes his son did bring a gun with him that night to fire shots into the air, however, the other people who were there may have taken the gun after his son crashed the car.

Police say a gun was not found on Jo Jo, nor was one recovered from inside the stolen BMW.

No suspects have been identified or arrested at this time. 

The chief says some of the people who were with Jo Jo the night of the incident are cooperating, but he would like to speak with everyone who was there.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Grand Rapids Police Department or Silent Observer. Detectives can be reached at (616) 456-3380 or tips can be sent anonymously through Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345 or their website here.


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