4/11/23: Shot twice before the age of 17

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

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What type of support does a child need to recover from the trauma of being shot? A Kalamazoo mother is on a lonely search for that answer. Also: State police searched the home of Kalamazoo Township’s manager. And Portage Northern’s graduation is back on after a ruling from a judge.

NowKalamazoo Feature Story

‘He’s never gonna be the same again’

A young man stands with his arm draped over the shoulder of a woman. Their backs are to us.

Keep your head down. Focus on your work. Start a summer landscaping business with your brother.

Mia has raised her four sons to avoid the ever-present and growing risk of gun violence.

But now after her 16-year-old son James was shot twice in a year and a half, Mia sees her only option as moving away from Kalamazoo.

“This changed my son,” Mia says. “My son is not the same. He’s never gonna be the same again.”

Mia and James are not their real names; pseudonyms are being used to protect their safety. They are sharing their story in an effort to increase awareness of the mental health impact of gun violence.

Like many communities across the country, the past few years have been marked by increased shootings and, two of the past three years, record gun homicides in Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo city and county commissions have both declared gun violence a public health crisis and each have directed $1 million toward solutions. A massive strategic plan is now being created by community advocates and leaders.

In the meantime, teenagers such as James have to seek out support themselves. And they also have to be cautious that they don’t get swept up by the criminal justice system as a result of implied guilt by association or ZIP Code.

James still uses crutches to support himself after being shot in the leg in December.

Mia is worried more about the wounds he conceals, what this has done to the child she’s raised to do right.

When asked what changed for him, James responds with one word: “Everything.”

Find out why Mia feels the only way to protect her sons is by leaving Kalamazoo, plus what experts in and out of the city say is necessary to support and protect youth like James.

More News You Need To Know

Police search K Twp manager’s home

State police officers on Monday searched the home of Kalamazoo Township Manager Dexter Mitchell. He voluntarily submitted to the search. Mitchell is under investigation, though Michigan State Police won’t say what he’s being investigated for. During a phone call with MLive Mitchell also declined to say why he’s under investigation.

Township Supervisor Don Martin confirmed that Mitchell has been placed on paid leave until the investigation is complete. He also declined to “comment on confidential personnel matters.” Mitchell came under fire last year after he abruptly terminated the fire department’s chief and battalion chief following mishandled harassment allegations. There is no indication his investigation is related to that issue. [MLive]

Portage graduation is on again after judge’s ruling

A Kalamazoo Circuit Court judge has lifted his order requiring Portage Northern High School to reschedule its graduation ceremony. That ceremony is scheduled for May 26, which is the same day as the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Portage Northern senior Minaleah Koffron filed suit against the district last month claiming the ceremony as scheduled violated her civil rights.

In a letter after the ruling, Koffron’s attorney said she is being denied her right to attend graduation because of her religion. “But this is just one issue in a much larger case about necessary policy changes within this district so that no Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or other minority has to suffer the way that Miss Koffron has,” wrote attorney Marla Linderman Richelew. Koffron said she has been consistently denied the ability to participate in school events because of similar scheduling issues. [WWMT]

Portage names new high school principal

The interim principal of Portage Northern High School will soon become its permanent principal. Portage Public Schools announced on Monday that it had picked Dr. Nathan Ledlow to run the school. Ledlow was the school’s assistant principal before he took over in an interim capacity last year. Ledlow took over from then-Principal Michael Huber. Huber resigned after an incident at the school’s homecoming dance in October last year. The district has not specified what that incident was. [WWMT]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

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Texas Township Business Townhall – Southwest Michigan First
8:30AM 4/11

KSO Musical Storybooks: Because – Kalamazoo Public Library, Central
10:30AM 4/11

KSO Musical Storybooks: Because – Kalamazoo Public Library, Central
11:30AM 4/11

Hays Park Cleanup Night – Kalamazoo Rotary Satellite Club
5:00PM 4/11

GLAMA Slow Jam – Kalamazoo Public Library, Central
5:30PM 4/11

Jazz with Barry Ross, Violin, and Terry Lower, Jazz Piano – Martell’s
5:30PM 4/11

Team Game Night: Family Feud – Richland Community Library
6:00PM 4/11

Sally Sexton Kalmbach, Historian – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
10:00AM 4/12

Meet Author, Austin Channing Brown – Kalamazoo Public Library, Central
12:30PM 4/12

3 of a Kind – Hilton Garden Inn
7:00PM 4/12

Austin Channing Brown Presents: I’m Still Here, YA edition – this is a bookstore | Bookbug
7:00PM 4/12

Calvin Hinds Live – Maestro’s Pizza
7:00PM 4/12

Dooley and friends live – O’Duffy’s Pub
7:00PM 4/12

Jasen Magic – Portage Zhang Senior Center
8:30PM 4/12

Bye-Bye Bernhard – WMU, Bernhard Center
10:00AM 4/13

Creative Wilderness w/Ladislav Hanka – Kalamazoo Nature Center
1:00PM 4/13

WMU We Talk with Bryan Newland, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs – WMU, College of Health and Human Services
3:00PM 4/13

Workshop: Broadsides – What have you got to say? – Kalamazoo Poetry Festival
3:30PM 4/13

Kalamazoo Civic Theatre’s 95th Season Announcement – Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
6:30PM 4/13

Live Music with Keith Scott Blues – Green Door Distilling Co.
6:30PM 4/13

Bored Teachers- We Can’t Make This Stuff Up Comedy Tour – Kalamazoo State Theatre
7:00PM 4/13

RCL Film Club: The Public – Richland Community Library
7:00PM 4/13

The Play That Goes Wrong – WMU, Shaw Theatre
7:30pm 4/13-15; 2pm 4/16

What To Send Up When It Goes Down – Face Off Theatre Co.
7:30pm 4/13-15, 2pm 4/16

Mead me at Valhalla – Comedy Open Mic Night – Valhalla Kalamazoo
9:00PM 4/13

See more upcoming events here.

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