OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — A two count felony warrant was issued for a suspect believed to have been involved in the shooting death of a 14-year-old Holland teenager that took place just past midnight on Saturday, Feb. 16.
Ottawa County Sheriff's Office released a statement Saturday afternoon announcing they are searching for 23-year-old Claudio Estrada Jr., who is facing charges of open murder and felony firearm following the death of 14-year-old Troy "TJ" Wells Jr. The charges were authorized by the Ottawa County Prosecutor's Office Saturday afternoon.
Estrada is described as 5-foot-10, weighing 130-pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He is being considered armed and dangerous, according to the sheriff's office.
Officers responded to reports of shots fired at the Hampton Inn, located at 12427 Felch St. in Holland Township, at 12:04 a.m. Saturday. When they arrived, they found Wells Jr. had suffered from multiple gunshot wounds. He was transported to Holland Hospital, where he later died.
Holland Public Schools, where Wells was a former student, released a statement Saturday via their website:
This weekend, the Holland community experienced a tragic loss. The shooting death of 14-year-old, Troy “TJ” Wells — a former member of the Holland Public School family — leaves us all shocked and grieving. We extend our deepest sympathy to Troy’s family and friends. There are no words that can adequately express our shared grief in the face of such a tragedy.
The district also issued a statement regarding proactive measures taken to ensure the health and safety of students attending the Snowcoming Dance Saturday evening.
Finally, while this incident did not take place on or near school property, I would like to stress the priority we place on the safety and security of all our students. We have comprehensive programs, policies, and procedures in place to ensure our schools are safe. Our faculty, building administrators, and counselors are trained in crisis intervention techniques, and we employ an associate dean of schools at each of our buildings to assist in our work. These highly trained individuals work directly with students to identify ways to keep our schools safe and our students secure.
Deputies with the sheriff's office said this incident does appear to have some gang relationship, but the extent of that information is currently unclear.
If you are aware of the whereabouts of the suspect being sought, contact Ottawa County Sheriff's Office or Silent Observer at 877-88-SILENT or online at MOSOTIPS.com.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Authorities in Ottawa County now say they do not believe Estrada is a suspect and he has since been released.