Man to stand trial in shoot­ing at work­ers

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY ORALANDAR BRAND-WILLIAMS The Detroit News

Em­ploy­ees at a Tay­lor truck­ing com­pany gave har­row­ing ac­counts Mon­day of a fa­tal shoot­ing in­ci­dent that left their boss dead and a for­mer co-worker fac­ing mur­der charges in a work­place shoot­ing.

Vernest James Grif­fin, 45, of Ster­ling Heights is ac­cused of killing Keith Kitchen, 60, who worked at BSD Line­haul in Tay­lor on Feb. 1. Grif­fin also is charged with killing Erib­erto Perez, 58, of Water­ford

Town­ship at Alu­minum Blank­ing

Co. in Pon­tiac.

Pa­trice Emery

Lu­mumba de­scribed be­ing hor­ri­fied as he ran for his life dur­ing the shoot­ing Feb. 1 at the truck­ing com­pany Grif­fin worked at un­til

Novem­ber. Wit­nesses said Grif­fin had an AK-47 as­sault ri­fle.

Lu­mumba said Grif­fin ap­proached the work truck Lu­mumba was about to drive and pointed a gun at him.

Lu­mumba said Grif­fin had a long gun in his hand af­ter leav­ing Kitchen’s of­fice. Lu­mumba said he tried to dif­fuse the sit­u­a­tion and asked Grif­fin how he was do­ing. He said Grif­fin opened the door and tried to shoot him.

Lu­mumba said he fled from the truck and hid.

“He took my truck (and) he tried to chase me,” said Lu­mumba as Kitchen’s fam­ily mem­bers in the court­room looked on. “I was hid­ing un­der my truck.”

Lu­mumba pointed Grif­fin out as the man he saw with the gun and who chased him. Lu­mumba, who started work­ing for the truck­ing com­pany in Jan­uary, said he never met Grif­fin be­fore.

Be­sides Lu­mumba, other co­work­ers tes­ti­fied to hear­ing the shots that killed Kitchen and see­ing Grif­fin with a gun.

Shaun Fon­dren said Grif­fin pointed a gun at him and asked him for keys to his (work) truck.

The wit­nesses did not go into de­tail dur­ing ques­tion­ing from As­sis­tant Wayne County Pros­e­cu­tor Wil­liam Lawrence or de­fense at­tor­ney Rene Cooper about what led to the fa­tal shoot­ing.

Grif­fin al­legedly then drove to Oak­land County, where he al­legedly shot and killed Perez. The vic­tim was shot mul­ti­ple times in the back as he sat at his desk at the Alu­minum Blank­ing on West Sh­effield in Pon­tiac about 11:37 a.m.

About 12:30 p.m. the same day, Grif­fin al­legedly drove to nearby Water­ford Town­ship, where he en­tered the As­sured Truck­ing busi­ness off Dixie High­way and asked the where­abouts of one of the work­ers. When he could not

find the per­son, he left. The busi­ness no­ti­fied po­lice and went on lock­down, said Oak­land County Sher­iff Mike Bouchard.

“He told one worker ‘I’m not look­ing for you,’ be­fore he left,” said Water­ford Town­ship po­lice Chief Scott Un­der­wood. “We have since in­ter­viewed the worker he had asked about, who told us he had never had a cross word with

(the sus­pect). It’s a mys­tery what an­gered him.”

Dur­ing an ex­change of gun­fire, the sus­pect was wounded from a po­lice shot­gun blast, Bouchard said, and was taken into cus­tody. Sev­eral 30-round mag­a­zines for the AK-47 were found in the ve­hi­cle, which Bouchard said in­di­cated to him that he sus­pect “was not through.”

Tay­lor po­lice Chief John Blair said Grif­fin had been in­volved in an in­ci­dent Nov. 24 at BSD Line­haul.





show the sus­pect was charged in De­cem­ber with as­sault with a deadly weapon and use of a firearm in the com­mis­sion of a felony af­ter al­legedly threat­en­ing a man at the Tay­lor busi­ness with a gun.

Grif­fin was or­dered by 23rd District Court Judge Geno Salomone on Mon­day to stand trial in the Kitchen homi­cide. He is due back in court in the Tay­lor case April 23 for ar­raign­ment in Wayne County Cir­cuit Court.

In the Oak­land County case, Grif­fin is due back in court next month.



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