Saginaw court hearing puts gang violence in the spotlight - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Saginaw court hearing puts gang violence in the spotlight

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(08/10/12) - A gang war has been playing out on the streets of Saginaw this summer.

There have been 13 murders in the city, most on the east side, most related to that gang war.

Security was tight in a courtroom Friday, as details of one shooting were laid out - a shooting that may be connected to the killing of 12-year-old boy.

12-year-old Tamaris Steward was killed in June, shot while he slept in his grandfather's house. 

Police say he was not the intended target, that his cousin was, and that cousin may have been in court Friday.

18-year-old Travante McKinley is charged with nine felonies, including conspiring to commit first-degree murder for shooting up a home and a car near the corner of 4th and Tuscola on the city's east side on July 21. No one was injured. District Court Judge Randall Jurrens did not allow us to record the two witnesses who testified. A woman testified she saw McKinley and two other people shoot up her car. McKinley's attorney is Jim Gust, and he disputes the woman's claim.

"Police tell me this is retaliation for her son killing another guy. It appears to me that someone may have told her this happened, but I don't think she saw anything," Gust says.

McKinley's grandmother is Kathryn Owens.

"They are trying to stick him with something he didn't do, falsely accused, lying, and the people who killed my grandson, Tamaris Steward, they are still walking free," Owens said.

Owens is also the grandmother of Tamaris Steward, the 12-year-old boy who was shot while sleeping in a recliner in his grandparents home in the early morning hours of June 7.  Police believe the shooter, or shooters, intended to shoot Steward's cousin. McKinley is Steward's cousin, but police will not confirm if McKinley was the intended target. McKinley was not in the home when Steward was shot.

"If they really don't know what's going on, just, free him, let him out, because he is in there for nothing," says LaTasha Owens.

McKinley was bound over to circuit court in his shooting case, as the number of people affected by this gang war continues to rise.

"That's all I want is justice for both of my grandchildren," Owens said.

Police say they have ideas who might be involved in the Tamaris Steward murder, but they are still looking for tips.

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