Battle Creek Police looking for suspect who allegedly shot teen in face during drug deal

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BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Two teenagers met up for a drug deal Tuesday night, police said, and one left with a gunshot wound to the face. Police are looking for the other one.

“He is expected to survive,” said Det. Sgt Troy Gilleylen during a press conference at the Battle Creek Police Department. “Right now we are reviewing video footage, security footage at the store.”

Police said at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night they responded to calls of shots fired at Cliff Street Grocery Store. Witnesses there told them that the two teenagers met for the drug deal, and minutes later one pulled out a gun and fired two shots. One of the shots hit the victim, Eric Thomas, 18, in the lower jaw.

“Shortly thereafter, [the] victim was transported by bystanders to Bronson Battle Creek for treatments of a gunshot wound to the face,” said Gilleylen. “The victim was subsequently transported to Bronson Kalamazoo.”

The suspect — described as a skinny teenage black male and 5’4' in height — then fled on foot, he said. Battle Creek used their K9 unit to search for him but were unsuccessful. Police are also searching for the people he was with. "Either they were with him as bystanders -- innocent also -- or they were apart of it,” said Gilleylen. “So, it's a matter time before we’re able to put all this together.”

Since it was not cold that night, he said, there was a lot of foot traffic at the store on Mott and Cliff streets. Several witnesses there provided them with substantial tips to help them determine who the suspect may be. However, they’d like him to make the first move.

“Right now, they’re sitting at home, and they’re nervous, and they’re worried,” said Gilleylen. He addressed the subjects of the search: “So, instead of having the police knock on your door, come forward and explain what took place so we can deal with this.”

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