Trial of teenager charged with fatal shooting begins after July 4 fireworks display in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – More than two years after a man died in a hail of bullets after the July 4th Grand Rapids fireworks display, a teenager is on trial for murder.

Testimony began on Tuesday October 26 in the trial of Oscar Urtiz-Esquivel, who was 16 when the fatal shooting near Fish Ladder Park occurred on July 6, 2019.

Kent County prosecutors allege the death was due to conflict between two gangs, the Latin Kings and Mexican Mob.

Related: Gang rivalry blamed for deadly shootout after July 4, 2019 fireworks display

Sault Espinoza, 20, died in the shooting and his girlfriend was injured. They were both in a vehicle, hit in traffic, when gunshots hit the vehicle from behind at around 10:40 p.m. on July 6.

Prosecutors allege that Urtiz-Esquivel and another man, Ulises Ferrer, 21, both shot the vehicle.

But defense attorney Kenneth Stovall, in an opening statement, said there was no evidence to show Urtiz-Esquivel fired a gun that night.

“He didn’t go up and didn’t shoot anyone,” Stovall said.

The shooting took place as a number of people were in the area, apparently trying to leave after the fireworks display.

Bailey Lenard, a passer-by, testified that he was in the back seat of an SUV, also in the Fish Ladder Park area, when a bullet shattered the SUV’s rear window and lodged in its sill- head. He was not injured, but said he considered himself lucky.

Police said earlier that they recovered 24 rounds from the scene of two different 9mm handguns.

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