2017-01-05 / Front Page

Senseless shooting left us angered

By Alan Campbell
Of The Enterprise staff

It was news that happens some place else. The word “city” comes to mind, but not in a good place in town.

On Jan. 11, 2016, a 9-1-1 call came in to Leelanau County dispatchers looking for help.

There had been an accidental shooting, although that description falls far short of what actually occurred in the home rented by Jennifer L. Bartlett, 32, at 333 W. First Street, Suttons Bay.

The home was being used as a drug house, prosecutors would later state. Bartlett was a mother of three, and on the verge of becoming pregnant again.

Her friend at the time was in a bedroom playing some type of morbid game with the kids that involved an AK-47, which went off.

He was killed. Thank God that the children weren’t injured.

Details of that incident brought an emotional response within the Enterprise staff and across the county. People were surprised, concerned — and angered that society had fallen to such a depth.

It was a low point among events that would unfold across the Leelanau Peninsula in 2016.

“It was indicative of how drugs ruin people’s lives,” Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich would later reflect. “They were using drugs and selling drugs, and we then add firearms to the mix ... children had access to weapons. Even though the shooting was accidental, it shows a great loss of caution.”

Similar tragedies, sadly, are played out every day across the nation. Drugs remove self-worth from the equation of life. Soon life’s most cherished gifts — family, love and then freedom — follow.

This particular tragedy occurred in a home that school buses will be driving by this morning.

“I was outraged that there were narcotics being trafficked out of that house within a block of Suttons Bay High School,” Borkovich continued. “We don’t want that in our community. And Suttons Bay has done so much in the past few years to gain a reputation with emphasis on academics and sports.”

There was no evidence that any of the drugs sold at the house ended up in the hands of students.

But clearly a drug culture that goes beyond smoking an occasional joint has crept deep into Leelanau’s society. Recall that the first meth house in the county was raided in Centerville Township between Glen Lake and Leland schools.

Bartlett accepted an offer on March 28 that allowed her to plead guilty to possession of cocaine in a school zone. Charges of conducting a criminal enterprise and maintaining a drug house were dismissed at least partially because Detroit detectives wanted to interview her.

Turns out that Bartlett was in the front seat of a car when the driver was murdered.

She later pleaded guilty to attempted perjury for lying on the stand about her phone conversation with a known drug dealer from Benzie County. He is the father of Bartlett’s baby, court records show.

The “victim” of the shooting, and we use the term loosely, gave up his life. He is Jaquan J. White, 25, who was shot in the head.

White left behind two young lives who will forever carry the memories of a blood-soaked bedroom in the community of Suttons Bay.

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