Grand Rapids Shooter Hunted and Killed Ex-Girlfriends, Daughter
More chilling details were revealed today in a news conference about 34-year old Rodrick Dantzler, who shot nine people, killing seven of them including his own daughter Thursday afternoon (July 7). Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk and Mayor George Heartwell addressed the media this morning, saying Dantzler was a "troubled individual" and was on the hunt.
Dantzler shot and killed four members of the Heeren family in their home near 4 Mile Rd and Plainfield Avenue. The victims were 29-year old Jennifer Heeren, who was previously married to Dantzler according to WZZM 13, 12-year old Kamrie Deann Heeren-Dantzler, daughter of Rodrick Dantzler, and Rebecca Lynn and Thomas Heeren, Jennifer's parents.
Dantzler also shot and killed former girlfriend Kimberlee Emkens, her sister Amanda and 10-year old niece Marissa Lynn at their home near Plainfield and Knapp St. Dantzler continued his rampage as he shot Robert Poore in the face near Grandville Avenue and Martha SW. Poore told police that the bullet ricocheted off his nose due to a titanium plate that was inserted for cancer treatment when he was a child.
The suspect proceeded to chase another woman from Plainfield Avenue through downtown Grand Rapids. Dantzler shot and struck the woman near Division Avenue and Fulton. He later exchanged gunfire with police but no one was hurt. The woman suffered minor injuries and said she knew Dantzler.
Chief Belk called the murders premeditated.
"He went out hunting people down," Belk said at the conference. "A very purposeful act. He went out and sought his revenge. He was troubled individual involved in some horrendous activity."
Dantzler led a police chase to I-96 and headed eastbound in the westbound lanes. He eventually crashed near Soft Water Lake near the Plainfield Avenue exit into a wooded area. Dantzler fled on foot and broke into a home on Rickman Street, where he took three people hostage. After taking the hostages, Dantzler called 911 to inform police he had hostages and demands.
Police negotiators stayed in contact with Dantzler, who demanded Gatorade and matches and would kill the hostages if he did not receive those items. The suspect eventually let the hostages go and took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Dantzler's death has left many questions unanswered in this senseless act of violence.
Mayor George Heartwell praised the Grand Rapids Police Departmnt, as well as surrounding law enforcement agencies and the community.
"We are a caring community and I call you today to care for your neighbors, to talk to each other, to reassure one another, pray for the friends and family members of the victims," said Heartwell.
"Second I would praise our Grand Rapids Police Department. They performed their duties masterfully under the most adverse circumstances; from their relentless pursuit under fire, through the streets of Grand Rapids, to the patient, skillful negotiations that were carried out. Negotiations that saved three lives. Our police were courageous, our police showed professionalism. This community has shown its faith and support of our police department, and yesterday we saw it played out in full view through the media coverage, just what a wise investment that has been."
"Third I want to thank our citizens for their solid act of involvement, with tips, with support and encouragement and appropriate response to our police department when they were advised or instructed. Citizens of Grand Rapids -- you performed well."
Mayor Heartwell stressed that while this is a tragic time for the city, the community has shown its strength to come together and support those affected by the massacre.
"We may have been shaken to our roots but our roots are deep," Heartwell stated. "And our faith is strong. And our commitment to our home is unshakable. Today we show why we are great people."