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Community leaders and victim's grandmother call for end to violence

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – A grandmother mourning the loss of her grandson and hoping something can be done to stop the gunfire in Benton Harbor.

Two separate shootings Sunday morning claimed two young men’s lives, and police are still searching for the gunmen.

Andre Sanders’ grandmother said she didn’t know about her grandson’s death until she was getting ready for church on Sunday morning. Now, she hopes the person who pulled the trigger will do the right thing, and turn themselves in.

“I usually get up and have a cup of coffee and listen to my gospel music and my sister called me with the news,” said Michelle Patterson.

Patterson woke up Sunday morning to the news her 22-year-old grandson, Andre Sanders, had been murdered in Benton Harbor. She couldn’t believe it.

Benton Harbor police confirm Sanders was shot multiple times near the 900th block of Lavette Street at about 1:30 A.M. Sunday morning and wound up at Lakeland Hospital where he passed away.

That was just one of two deadly shootings reported.

Early Sunday in the city, about two hours after Sanders was shot, 25-year-old “Jo-Jo” Tyson was gunned down about 2 miles away on Edgecumbe Avenue, where two others were injured as well.

Patterson said words cannot describe how much she’ll miss her Andre. Patterson said Andre “was always smiling, he was mild-mannered. He was mild-mannered, and he always looked after his little brother, which is my grandson. He took real good care of him. He was a caring person.”

Dr. Don Tynes is a community leader in Benton Harbor and calls the shooting a tragedy. “In this African-American community, in this Hispanic community, in poor communities in general there’s not really true opportunity there. You can’t deny what’s happening world-wide and affecting people of color. I’m just sorry, that’s what the situation is. And as a result, they don’t have a mean’s out,” said Dr. Tynes.

While police say witnesses at both shooting scenes are not helping with the investigation, Dr. Tynes believes more jobs and more economic investment in the African American and Hispanic communities could help put an end to the gunfire.

Dr. Tynes said, “segregation already exists in America period. What happens is that in the poor communities, those segregated communities are used as a source of revenue for other communities. So, the dollars are not reinvested into those communities.”

Just like Dr. Tynes, Michelle Patterson wants to see the shooting come to an end, “I just want the violence to stop. Especially among the young kids in our community, because it’s getting out of hand. I’m tired of hearing about the deaths and the violence. It’s time for the parents to stand up and see what’s going on with their children,” said Patterson.

Patterson said that Andre was a very sweet person that loved to play baseball, she never knew him to be violent and his little brother will miss him very much.

Police have stepped up patrols in the city in the wake of shootings but have not arrested anyone.

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