Mom says to son’s killer, ‘Someday I’ll forgive you’ for downtown Grand Rapids shooting

Brenda Bables says she can’t get over the death of her son, Armonie Acklin, who was only 25 years old.

“We all have a hole in our hearts that can’t be filled because of just carelessness,” Bables told the man convicted of killing her son at his Thursday sentence. “You took away my first true love, my son, my best friend.”

Genesis Lewis, 25, was sentenced to at least 30 years in jail for shooting and killing Acklin and injuring three others shortly after midnight on June 5, 2022, outside a bar on Pearl Street in downtown Grand Rapids.

Marcellous Suttles, another of the victims, was having one of his best days ever. He was married just hours before.

Mom says to son's killer, ‘Someday I'll forgive you' for downtown Grand Rapids shooting

“These people simply wanted to enjoy their wedding,” Kent County Circuit Judge Mark Trusock stated Thursday.

As the wedding party celebrated the big night downtown, Lewis and his father got into a heated argument. Following the incident, police stated that the parties had a long-standing animosity. The fight quickly escalated. Lewis returned to the truck and drew out two weapons. According to investigators, the bride requested Lewis not to escalate the situation.

“Even before that, the bride came out and was in you and your father’s face, saying, ‘Please leave us alone, just go, this is our wedding day,'” Trusock told Lewis on Thursday.

According to investigators, Lewis fired 12 to 13 shots at the group, hitting four people. Acklin, one of Lewis’ closest friends, was shot in the head and murdered.

“You didn’t mean to, but acting recklessly, discharging that gun 13 times, you hit the groom,” Trusock went on to say.

Nine of the shots struck the groom. His family members told News 8 that after he was wounded, the bride used ties and belts to staunch the bleeding, possibly sparing his life.

“It is a miracle of modern medicine that he did not die,” Trusock explained. “Nine shots from a 9 mm and he didn’t die.”

Surveillance cameras in the neighborhood captured the incident, which “showed Lewis firing a handgun into a crowd,” according to the probable cause affidavit.

Lewis’s attorney, Daniel Schwalm, told News 8 that Lewis grabbed the pistols and fired the bullets to save his father during the struggle.

“His father was laying on the ground,” Schwalm claimed. “There were three men standing above him that were attacking his father.”

“This was a situation where his father could have been killed,” he said. “In his opinion, he used lethal force to protect his father. He may have had poor abilities or marksmanship, but it was clear that he had no intention of killing Armonie Acklin or anybody else.

According to Schwalm, Lewis, and Acklin referred to each other as brothers, and Acklin tried to help him throughout the fight.

“(Lewis’s father) was on the ground, and (Acklin) saw he was outnumbered,” Schwalm said. “He was there, so he came over to assist him. When he went over to help, one of the attackers punched (Acklin), and he returned. At that exact time, (Lewis) fired to stop the onslaught, and (Acklin) was punched into the line of fire and killed.”

Mom says to son's killer, ‘Someday I'll forgive you' for downtown Grand Rapids shooting

Trusock stated Thursday that Lewis and his father were “in the (wedding group’s) face” outside the tavern.

“Quite frankly, I think your father was the instigator of a lot of this,” Trusock went on to say.

Bables stated Acklin was only 11 months old when his father died. She informed Lewis that she hopes to forgive him someday for killing her son.

Armonie would want that from me,” she explained.

Bables also encouraged Lewis to accomplish something positive while imprisoned.

“Be a mentor to help young guys break the cycle. “It’s horrible,” she exclaimed.

In November 2023, a jury found Lewis guilty of killing Acklin and injuring the other three people.

Lewis apologized during his sentence on Thursday, saying he would take his punishment for taking his friend’s life.

“There’s always going to be a hole in my heart from this situation due to his loss,” he stated. “What is most important to me is that Armonie receives justice.” “He’s no longer with us.

“If me having to take responsibility for my actions and the action of the person that assaulted him and was in the line of fire is what I owe to him, then I’m willing to do whatever it takes to pay the fraction of the debt that he put his life on the line for me and my dad,” he said.

Lewis had no criminal record prior to the crime, except for a fishing violation. He had a concealed license. Before Lewis was sentenced, Trusock expressed his concern about young guys with little to no past criminal record carrying concealed license permits (CPLs) and irresponsibly shooting their firearms.

“This is the second time in the last year I’ve sentenced a young man who basically has done nothing wrong in their life other than the incident for which they’re in front of me,” Trusock told the court.

Trusock was referring to a 2022 murder case involving the death of 13-year-old Jamarion McCuller in Kentwood. McCuller was a seventh grader. Justin House, the shooter in that case, held a concealed carry license. Investigators claimed House’s father’s car had been stolen earlier in the day, and he chased the group while legally carrying a handgun. House opened fire, killing McCuller in the back.

House was later sentenced to 14 to 40 years in jail for second-degree murder, with an additional two years for a weapon charge.

“Like you here, you have no record, you have a CPL, you had your guns, and when you lost control, you killed a friend of yours and shot three other people,” Lewis was quoted as saying. “It concerns me that people with concealed license permits got to realize they’re not police officers, they don’t have the training and experience, and when somebody pulls a gun to shoot someone, there can be very serious ramifications.”

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