Thursday, May 8, 2008


Two held, third sought in shooting at comics store
Thursday, May 08, 2008
By Barton Deiters
The Grand Rapids Press
KENTWOOD -- With two men already behind bars, the Kentwood Police Department continues to look for a third suspect in the April 25 shooting at a comic book store.

David Pirkola, the owner of Apparitions Comics and Books, was critically injured by a gunshot fired during an apparent robbery at the store near Woodland Mall.

Two men were arrested within hours following a random traffic stop by another department, but Kentwood police did not disclose the arrests for more than a week.

The suspects are 18-year-old James Muriel-Neal Thompson and 19-year-old Marvin Michael-Marquis Jones. Thompson and Jones remain in the Kent County Jail on $500,000 bond and face a Monday probable-cause hearing in Kentwood District Court.

Despite being shot in the abdomen during the Friday incident, Pirkola was awake and conscious when Kentwood police arrived on the scene at 2757 Ridgemoor Drive SE around 7 p.m., according to a warrant affidavit filed with the Kentwood District Court.

Pirkola provided police with a description of the man he said shot him. Some collectable cards taken from the store were found south of the store, the affidavit showed.

Witnesses in nearby businesses reported seeing three suspicious men leave the store and speed away in a green car. Kentwood Police were able to get some video surveillance recordings from the time of the incident from a nearby store.

One man who fit the description filled out an application for a cellular phone near where the shooting occurred.

The day after the shooting, Grand Rapids police officers pulled over a vehicle at Franklin Street SE and Ionia Avenue. The officer identified Thompson and Jones, who were arrested.

Kentwood police detectives interviewed the two suspects and reported that although both initially denied any involvement in the shooting, they later admitted they were in the store. One of them also admitted the robbery had been planned in advance, though both said the shooting was not part of the plan, according to the affidavit.

"Thompson stated ... that he was standing by the door when this happened," Kentwood Detective William Olenzuk wrote in the warrant application. "He also stated that 'they didn't tell me what they were going to do until afterward.'"

The pair were arraigned April 28 in Kentwood District Court on charges of armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and assault with intent to murder. Police Chief Richard Mattice did not release the names until after media inquiries because they were searching for another suspect: 18-year-old Jevon Marquis Sawyer.

"We made several attempts that were fruitless to locate the individual and decided the information could be released," Chief Richard Mattice said Wednesday.

Sawyer and Jones have no criminal history, according to court records, and Thompson has one prior felony drug arrest.

Meanwhile, Pirkola remains in critical condition. Family and store employees have declined to talk about the 56-year-old victim.

But nationwide attention to the case in the comic book community continues. Ron Richards reports on his Web site that more than $5,500 has been raised to help Pirkola with medical costs and other expenses.

Employees and volunteers at Apparitions continue to keep the store open and say they plan to do so until Pirkola can return to his familiar spot behind the counter.

-- Press staff writer John Tunison contributed to this story.

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