Mom of slain Grosse Pointe girl: Teens were no threat

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Detroit — Fighting back tears and battling emotions, the family of a Grosse Pointe Farms teen killed in a Dec. 22 shooting pleaded for the public's help Wednesday in identifying the man responsible.

Jennifer Stalker, the mother of victim Paige Stalker, spoke of the need for people to provide information on the incident that took her daughter's life and left three other teens wounded. Her thoughts have dwelt on the unknown person who fired at least 26 shots at the car her daughter was in.

"Of course, I think about him a lot," Stalker said. "I just don't know how he could ever possibly think that a car full of young teenagers was ever any threat to him at all."

A photo of Paige Stalker in a bouquet of flowers near the scene of Stalker's shooting on Philip, near Charlevoix on Detroit’s east side.

Paige Stalker, 16, was among five teens in a parked car near the Charlevoix/Phillip intersection on Detroit's east side when the shooting occurred. Police said a tan Cadillac pulled up, one man got out and opened fire on the group. The site is near the city's border with Grosse Pointe.

Police believe it was a case of a random robbery gone bad.

Paige Stalker's grandfather, Dave Lawrence, on Wednesday offered some details about the night of the shooting. Paige and her friend had planned to head to a 9:30 p.m. movie at Partridge Creek. Paige and the other teens were attacked around 8:45 p.m.

Jennifer Stalker, the mother of Paige Stalker, speaks at a press conference at Crime Stoppers of Michigan on Wednesday.

Lawrence also stressed it was likely that more than one person was involved in the shooting, according to witness statements.

"The person that got out of the car did not get out of the driver's side," he said. "I believe what was said (by witnesses) was he got out of the back seat of the car.

"While one person committed the murder, there are possibly two other people out there."

As the investigation continues, the reward for information in the shooting continues to grow.

Crime Stoppers is putting up $12,500 for information that leads to an arrest in the case. Previously, the organization, which encourages support for law enforcement investigations, had set a reward of $10,000.

In addition to the Crime Stoppers contribution, the Detroit Crime Commission announced a reward of $100,000 in the case on Monday. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers of Michigan at (800) 773-2587. Information can be provided anonymously.

"It could be your daughter, your granddaughter, somebody in your community," Lawrence said. "We need to get the this individual off the street to save other peoples' lives."

Stalker's family spoke at a press conference on Detroit's east side Wednesday morning and were joined by the Rev. Malik Shabazz, a community activist and organizer. Next week, he said a group of volunteers would canvass the area of the shooting putting out fliers seeking information in the case. Those interested in participating can call (313) 646-3375 for more information.

"This is a human issue," Shabazz said. "It's not a Detroit issue. It's not a Grosse Pointe issue. It's not a black or white issue. It's a human being issue. We cannot allow anyone to walk up to a car full of young people and indiscriminately start firing.

"We praise God that there was only one murder — and it shouldn't have been that. But it could have been four. You could have had four families sitting here but by the grace of God. This individual is dangerous and deadly and needs to be taken off the streets."

Shabazz and John Broad, president of Crime Stoppers, highlighted the ability of tipsters to remain anonymous in providing information and receiving the reward.

"Somebody knows something," Shabazz said. "And you've got to do the right thing for all of us. Get up, stand up and tell."

In addition to their pleas for help, family members spoke of the life lost, describing Paige as a young adult with a natural drive to help others. The junior at University Liggett School had designs on becoming a doctor and loved ones had no doubt she would eventually reach that goal.

Her uncle, Chris Lawrence, described how Paige Stalker would visit his family and help look after his three boys.

"I loved her like a daughter," he said. "And someone has taken that from me and my three sons."

Prior to Wednesday's press conference, Jennifer Stalker and other family members visited the site of the shooting to lay flowers at a nearby tree. They were approached by residents who offered their support — a gesture she found overwhelming.

"Everyone just wants a safe place to be," she said.

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