Published December 13, 2016
Prosecutors charged Western Michigan basketball player Jovieair Kennedy with murder and armed robbery Monday, accusing him of gunning down a fellow student during a robbery of a cellphone and money.
Kennedy, 20, was arraigned Monday in the shooting of 19-year-old Jacob Jones at an off-campus Kalamazoo apartment on Thursday. Kennedy, who is from Muskegon, was denied bond and did not yet have an attorney.
Kennedy is charged with murder, armed robbery and using a gun during a felony. The charging document says others were present.
An uncle, Lucious Kennedy, told WWMT-TV at the courthouse: "I don't know who did it but I feel bad for the family. This ain't my nephew."
On Friday, WMU athletic director Kathy Beauregard said an athlete had been suspended after being identified by police as a person of interest in the shooting. She didn't identify the athlete or the sport the student participated in.
Kennedy, who has appeared in eight games for the Broncos this season, was not on the roster for Saturday's home game against James Madison. The school would not confirm that Kennedy was the athlete identified by police, but coach Steve Hawkins spoke a bit in general terms about the situation after the game.
"It's a devastating loss for our university. It's a devastating tragedy for everybody involved," Hawkins said Saturday. "Lives were changed forever, and so, we're very, very respectful of that. We're very shook by the whole thing. Now, it's up to us to try and — as you always do, trying to mentor young people — you just try and pick up the pieces and move forward. There's a lot not known. So that's where we're at."
Kennedy signed a letter of intent in 2015 to play for WMU. After redshirting in 2015-16, he was averaging 7.4 minutes a game this season.
The Kalamazoo area has had to deal with several tragic events this year, including the random fatal shootings of six people and wounding of two others in February. In June, five bicyclists were killed in a road crash in Kalamazoo County's Cooper Township.
P.J. Fleck, the coach of WMU's undefeated football team, said earlier this month he hoped his team had been able to provide some "energy and hope" for the area.