Alleged killer has MSU and East Lansing ties
When the last police car pulled away and the pouring rain subsided Monday afternoon, two were dead and a community was left with more questions than answers.
One of those killed, Michael Addo, was a Rite Aid pharmacist who wanted to one day return to Ghana. The other, Jordan Rogers, would have soon been a stepfather to three young girls.
East Lansing resident Ricard Walter Taylor, 34, is the only suspect in the two shootings. He faces seven felony charges, including two counts of open murder.
Police said Taylor did not intend to rob the Rite Aid where the first shooting occurred.
Close friends described Taylor as a level-headed, generally happy guy — a veteran who was stationed in Germany, an aspiring MSU student saving up for his masters degree in psychology and a talented street musician. They say he was a good brother, and once worked as a security guard at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum.
East Lansing residents Ricard Taylor, right, and Taro Taylor, left, photographed on Oct. 30, 2013, were street performers on Grand River Avenue before Ricard Taylor was charged in the shooting deaths of two people Wednesday. The brothers had previously been featured in a Living City.
Okemos resident Hugh Cochran, one of Taylor’s best friends, said he never saw any signs of anger or depression in Taylor.
But Cochran wonders how his generally happy, gentle best friend could be accused of something so terrible.
Musician, Brother, Friend
Cochran said he realized his best friend was the man suspected of shooting and killing two people on Monday because Taylor lived at the duplex on the 1800 block of Coolidge Road and Cochran recognized him from the photos taken of him being led out by police. East Lansing police confirmed Tuesday that Ricard Walter Taylor was being held at the city jail.
“Ricard was more even-keeled than me,” Cochran said. “He always had a positive thing to say and I never saw him lose his temper, ever.”
Cochran said he first met Taylor when he saw him playing bucket drums on the street in East Lansing. A street musician himself, Cochran was drawn to Taylor and his brother, Taro, who performed regularly on Grand River Ave. outside The Peanut Barrel.
“It’s built my character and my self-esteem a lot because I’ve been in situations where I’ve felt like I needed to cater to some one else’s perception of me,” Taylor said, referring to his street performance in a previous interview.
Cochran said Taylor helped to build his relationship with his girlfriend, Okemos resident Kayleigh Slone, who is also a street musician.
Slone said she saw Taylor on Saturday, and he was his normal, happy self.
“I was out playing music and he walked right by me,” Slone said. “We greeted each other, he said he was out bar-hopping; having a good time.”
Slone said Taylor was happy with his life and excited about his job.
“This was just on Saturday night,” Slone said. “He wasn’t acting weird, he was out having a good time. I don’t understand what could have happened.”
Police responded to a homicide at approximately 11:07 a.m. at 3106 Saginaw St. at Rite Aid in Lansing on Monday. Upon arrival, police located a male in his mid-30’s with multiple gunshot wounds. Police later identified the victim as Rite Aid employee Michael Addo, who worked in the pharmacy.
Family of Addo could not be reached for comment, but the Lansing State Journal reported Addo as a Ghana native working as a pharmacist to save up money. Nicholas Gyimah, a cousin, told the Journal Addo was “very well educated, very intelligent and well focused on whatever he was doing.”
Although a K-9 search of the area was unsuccessful due to the rain, police didn’t have to wait long for a lead.
Six minutes later, police responded to a shooting at the 1800 block of Coolidge Road. One person, later identified as Jordan Rogers, was pronounced dead. Family of Rogers did not return calls seeking comment. The Lansing State Journal reported Rogers was a sports fanatic and a father figure to his fiancee’s three daughters.
Over the course of the almost three-hour standoff, MSU police; the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office; Meridian Township police; Lansing Township police; Michigan State police; the Michigan Intelligence Center; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives; the Federal Bureau of Investigations; the U.S. Marshals and Ingham County 911 worked to take Taylor into custody.
Police made contact with the suspect through a window they broke and after a short time he gave up, East Lansing police Capt. Jeff Murphy said.
Police say they are not yet sure if the incidents are related.
Taylor was indicted Wednesday on seven felony charges, including two counts of open murder , t wo counts dangerous weapon or carrying with unlawful intent, two counts felony firearm and one count carrying a concealed weapon.
He will be held without bail.
East Lansing resident Nadine Cohen is a next-door neighbor to Taylor and said he had a habit of getting drunk, and got in a shouting match with another person on Sunday. Cohen said she heard Taylor yelling “Do you want to die? Do you want to get shot?” around 9:30 p.m.
Cohen said Taylor and his brother lived there together and she often heard loud music coming from their house. Cohen said she is shocked the shooting happened, and doesn’t understand why.
Lansing resident and 2012 MSU alumnus Masaki Takahashi was a friend to Taylor, and believes he was battling inner demons.
“He had his days when he was a great person and you could get along with him, and other days you could tell he was a little off,” Takahashi said. “He loved music and he had big ambition and wanted to do something with his life.”
Takahashi and Cochran both say Taylor was involved in the U.S. Navy, but aren’t sure why he was discharged.
Takahashi suspects mental illness played a role in the shootings, and Cochran mentioned Taylor was worried about having schizophrenia because his family had a history of mental illness.
“As far as I knew, he was not on any medications and never mentioned any repressed anger or emotions,” Cochran said. “He had a .22-caliber Ruger pistol and practiced safe gun ownership. He went to the range regularly and was going for his concealed weapon license.”
Police said the gun used in the shooting was registered.
Police say they are not yet ruling out mental illness as a factor in the shootings. Taylor’s pretrial conference is set for May 20 and his preliminary examination will be May 23, both at 54-B District Court in East Lansing.
In the meantime, friends of Taylor are left stunned and confused.
“I never thought shooting somebody would be something that would happen (with Ricard),” Takahashi said. “I just want people to be able to look at the health and wellness of other people, not just veterans but everybody, and look at the point that society needs to take care of people.”