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Posted on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

Ypsilanti Township homicide victim remembered as outgoing, friendly

By Katrease Stafford

Friends and former classmates of Brandon Wesley Charles, who was shot dead Tuesday night in a car in Ypsilanti Township, remember him as outgoing and athletic.


Brandon Charles

Courtesy photo

Charles was found dead in the driver’s seat of a Ford sedan at 10 p.m. Tuesday in front of a home in the 600 block of Calder Avenue. He died from gunshot wounds to his torso. According to deputies, he was visiting a friend at the home.

Thursday morning, Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said no further updates were available. Deputies are actively investigating the case, but no suspects have been identified.

Friends and former classmates of Charles said his death came as a shock. He was well-liked and known in the Ypsilanti area, they said, and recently celebrated his birthday on Jan. 21.

Crystal Burks, a former Lincoln High School classmate and a friend of Charles, said the one thing she'll remember is his personality.

"Brandon was very kind, funny and dedicated," Burks said.

Burks said she remembered Charles asking for help with his homework so he could graduate from high school.

"That showed me he was serious about getting his life back together after a small hiccup," Burks said. "... He was a great friend with a wonderful sense of humor and will definitely be missed."

Coverage of Brandon Charles’ death’s coverage of the shooting in West Willow that killed Brandon Charles.

Richard Burns, another former Lincoln High classmate, said he and Charles grew up in the same neighborhood.

"We lived in the same neighborhood for most of our childhood," Burns said. "I also did yard work for his parents, too ... . He was a good dude, excellent basketball player, funny, and very outgoing. He was loyal to family and friends. ... (I'm) sad to hear about his death because I knew him since he was 11 years old."

Charles did have previous run-ins with the law. Fox confirmed the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office had previous contacts with Charles regarding drugs, weapons and assault-related offenses. However, Fox said Charles was not known to be affiliated with any gangs in the West Willow neighborhood.

Before he was fatally shot Tuesday, Charles was shot in a road rage incident in Detroit on New Year's Day. He had been scheduled to testify Wednesday in a court hearing related to that case.

Charles and a woman, who police believe was his girlfriend, were leaving the MGM Grand Casino in Detroit around 3:10 a.m. on Jan. 1 when they were involved in a car accident with a Ford Expedition, Lt. Michael Shaw of the Michigan State Police said.

Charles was shot once and a woman in the passenger's seat of Charles' vehicle was shot nine times. The woman was also scheduled to testify in Wayne County court Wednesday morning in the shooting case.

Police arrested and charged two men, 30-year-old Willie Lee Wimberly, of Trenton, and 33-year-old Steve DeShawn Smith-Rush, of Inkster, in connection with the road rage incident. Both are out on bond.

Mary McPhail-Ciufo, who attended Lincoln Consolidated Middle School with Charles, called his death tragic.

"Brandon Charles had an excellent sense of humor, was a very nice guy, and I remember him being very sweet to his younger sister," McPhail-Ciufo said. "This is an awful tragedy and one that no one deserves to have befallen upon them, least of all a good person like Brandon. (I) extend my condolences to his family."

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.



Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 1:03 a.m.

why is the victim picture so intimating ? if news would post a happy picture showing him as a family man maybe then the case would have better chance .

Boosie Jones

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

So wrong in so many ways.I just feel sad for the victims family.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 4:23 a.m.

where was the polices protection for him after he testified? and is money more valuable to the state then human lives , where a dangers felon can post 10 thousand dollar bound? well if this was connected to the Road rage shooting...


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 4:18 a.m.

when will south East Michigan do something about all murders in Detroit , Pontiac Flint and Ypsilanti. we living war zone run buy these hoodlums , its time improve the sate of Michigan, one of highest numbers of murders in each of those city's i listen above and even in parts of YPSILANTI) .


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 6:48 a.m.

its not simple so compare anything , some places in Detroit nice while other really really bad ...ypsi has some pretty areas and been documented...even Ann Arbor had its troubles dating back to the 70s


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 1:06 a.m.

yes lets compare this particular area like Detroit!! its west willow gangland.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 9:12 a.m.

It's spelled State....S-T-A-T-E. Also, what are you really trying but failing to suggest about Ypsilanti, comparing it to Detroit, Pontiac and Flint? Also, this article is about the victim and the crime committed against him. Not a name rundown of cities within the State of Michigan.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:47 a.m.

Sad for the Victim of this crime and deepest condolences to his Family and Friends. For the criminals who committed this act, ironically, there are camera's in West Willow at the five entry points. Unless the "suspect(s)" were walking (and even if they were -- as the camera's caught a previous convicted criminal bike riding in and out of the neighborhood) more likely than not one of these camera's caught a shot of the car(s) drove into and out of West Willow. Something to think about, indeed!


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

It amazes me that people think they can get away with this! They're going to get caught!!!


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 1:05 a.m.

murderers dont always caught the first time.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 11:39 p.m.

"...Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office had previous contacts with Charles regarding ... weapons and assault-related offenses.." Vive gladio peri gladio.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

This is such a vague description who are we to jump to conclusions? As well, does this mean he should be gunned down while sitting in the car in a friends' driveway, seemingly minding his own business? As well it said "contacts" not "convictions". There is a high school student in Ann Arbor facing "weapons" charges for wielding a crutch in a fight, a "weapons" charge is vague. Personally, my condolences go out to this man's family and friends. I'm more interested in convicting the shooters in both cases.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:15 p.m.

"Police arrested and charged two men, 30-year-old Willie Lee Wimberly, of Trenton, and 33-year-old Steve DeShawn Smith-Rush, of Inkster, in connection with the road rage incident. Both are out on bond." Sad situation and then..."investigating the case, but no suspects have been identified."


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:44 p.m.

Yeah, pretty suspicious that it happened the night before he was scheduled to testify. Hopefully the female companion is in protective custody.