Relatives mourned the loss Thursday of a teen — the “baby of the family” — whose future was cut short after he was snatched from an east side street in an abduction caught on tape.
The family of Deontae Mitchell, 13, whose body was found early Thursday in an east side Detroit field, said the boy “had a huge heart.”
He was taken at gunpoint from the street around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday outside Nino’s Market at 15901 E. Warren, less than five miles from where his body was found near Harper and Baldwin.
“Deontae was different,” said Ernest McFadden, the father of the boy’s older brothers. “He was joyful. He was going to be something different than all the other kids.”
Suspected kidnapper Gregory Walker, 45, of Detroit was arrested in Ohio, police said.
“He was taken into custody without incident,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at a Thursday morning news conference. A female companion also was taken into custody with Walker, the chief said.
He declined to release further information on the arrest, citing the ongoing investigation.
Officials released the harrowing video footage Wednesday from outside the party story.
The images appeared to show the suspect lead a boy by the arm, away from the store. The clip then cuts to a closer view as the man appears to push the boy into the backseat before slamming the door and walking away.
It wasn’t clear if another person was in the vehicle, Craig said. Police recovered the Chevrolet Impala on Thursday morning, he said.
Craig said it remained unclear if Walker knew Deontae before the alleged abduction.
McFadden accompanied Deontae’s mother, Crystal Mitchell, on Thursday afternoon to the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office, where they identified the boy’s body.
A spokesman with the medical examiner confirmed the identification Thursday. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.
Deontae was “the baby of the family” with two older brothers and an older sister, McFadden said. He was a bright kid who loved school and followed the rules.
“He believed in God. He believed in something better than everything going on in the world today,” McFadden said. “He believed in people, too. I guess that’s where he made his mistake.”
McFadden said the family is doing “a lot of praying” since Deontae’s “unbelievable” death.
“It’s happening to these kids every day, though,” he said of Detroit children becoming victims of violent crime. “Kids that still have their innocence and don’t know the world can be so cold and broken.”
Deontae was a good kid, said Glen Ellington of Detroit, his grandfather. He enjoyed helping with yard work and playing basketball.
“He got caught up at the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.
Ellington spoke of the fear his grandson may have felt as he was kidnapped. “If the guy held a gun to his head, I know he was scared. He wasn’t no violent-type person,” he said.
Another suspect, Ernest Coleman, 30, was taken into custody Thursday at his Detroit home, Officer Jennifer Moreno said. No further details were available about his arrest or alleged involvement in the abduction.
A third suspect remained on the run, according to Moreno. Police are still looking for Roy Portis, 51, who is described as 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds.
“The circumstances are very troubling,” Craig said. “Once again, another coward preying on children. This should be a message to all who perpetrate crimes against children: We will find you.”
Craig said the recent series of violent crimes involving children has taken a toll on his department. “Our officers are not robots,” he said. “They care.”
Walker has previous convictions including felony firearm, drug possession and receiving stolen property, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Deontae was kidnapped after riding bikes with his cousin to the market, police said. They saw Walker, who appeared to be intoxicated, drop money while urinating outside the store.
Deontae picked up the money and the pair rode away, according to the boy’s cousin.
But McFadden on Thursday stressed a different side of Deontae. “He was the type of kid that would help an old lady cross the street, not snatch her purse,” McFadden said. “He was that kid.”
Craig on Thursday blasted critics who have speculated about why the boy’s mother allowed him to be out late Tuesday.
“She’s a loving mom,” Craig said. “He’s a teenager. Name a city where teens don’t go out in the summer months. We should be talking about the violent predator that preys on children.”
Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or contact Detroit police at (313) 596-5521 or (313) 596-1616. Anonymous tipsters may contact Crime Stoppers by calling (800) SPEAK-UP.