By Judy Reed
The Kent Metro Cold Case team is making progress on several cold cases, including an arrest last week, and the identification of a victim and possible suspect in another.
Last week the team arrested Andrew Ramon Scott, 27, of Lewisville, Texas, on an open murder and felony firearm charge in the 2004 Grand Rapids murder of Tahari Braggs, 25. Braggs was driving his vehicle on Alexander St. when he stopped to talk with occupants of another vehicle on the street. Shots were fired from the suspect vehicle, striking Braggs, and the other car left the scene. Braggs died from multiple gun shot wounds. Investigators determined the incident was a result of an altercation that transpired a day earlier between Braggs and acquaintances. After a lengthy investigation, the case went cold, but was reopened in 2009. It is the ninth arrest made by the cold case team since it was formed in 2006.
Just this week the team identified the victim in a 2001 homicide that occurred in southwest Grand Rapids in 2001. On November 13, 2001, the Grand Rapids Police Department investigated a double stabbing that occurred on Ritzema Ct SW, near Grandville Ave SW. Officers found a Hispanic male fatally stabbed and a second stabbing victim with non-life threatening injuries. The first victim had no identification on him. The second victim, Simon Mata, indicated he and the first man had been stabbed by a Hispanic male known to him as “Guero.” Through the use of interpreters, Mata told investigators he did not know the victim or assailant’s real name. Investigators believed the victims and suspect were illegal immigrants from Mexico, but investigative leads were exhausted in the case in an attempt to identify the victim and suspect.
In March 2011, the cold case team reopened the case, and resubmitted the victim’s fingerprints into a larger database, where they learned his identity. The victim has been identified as Gerado Piedra-Amaya, a 32-year-old Hispanic male from Durango, Mexico. He entered the country illegally on February 19, 2001. The victim had been living in the Grand Rapids area for at least three months prior to his murder.
Investigators are seeking information from witnesses who might provide information on the victim or suspect. Suspect is a light skinned Hispanic male with light brown hair, very thin sideburns, a thin, barely visible, mustache, and a small goatee. At the time of the homicide he was around 24 years of age, about 5-feet 5-inches tall, 155 pounds, and had hazel eyes.
At the time of the homicide he was known to frequent the Heartside area of Grand Rapids and sleep under viaducts along the U.S. 131 corridor. He is believed to be an undocumented worker from Mexico.
Please contact the Kent Metro Cold Case Unit at (616) 632-6123.