Family of Ypsilanti homicide victim remembers a devoted father in the process of turning life around
Courtesy of Amy Morgret
Family members say 29-year-old Bhagavan Allen was getting a fresh start in life when he was shot dead in an Ypsilanti street Wednesday.
Bhagavan Allen - or Von as he was known to his family - had been out of prison for two years when he was killed on South Grove Street, the victim of multiple gunshot wounds, including one to the neck. Police believe the suspect is 34-year-old Leonard Ware, of Superior Township, Von Allen’s co-worker at Marsh Plating Corp. just down the street from where police found Allen’s body lying in a bike lane in the road.
As of Friday, Ware was still at large and police were scouring a wide-ranging area looking for him. Police believe the shooting was work-related and had something to do with Allen’s job performance.
State prison records available on the Offender Tracking Information System indicate Allen was incarcerated from January 2007 to October 2010 on charges of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and felony firearm for a Wayne County offense.
After serving the roughly four-year sentence, however, Allen was staying out of trouble, say family members, who remember him as a hard worker, a boisterous spirit, a loving fiance and a devoted father to his 5-year-old twin daughters, Isis and Isia.
“He had turned his life around,” said his grandmother, Ruby Allen, of Detroit. “He was doing good.”
At the time of Allen’s death, he and Amy Morgret, 28, were engaged to be married, she said. They had known each other half their lives when they reconnected through the Internet while he was serving time.
“We’ve known each other since he was 14 and I was 13,” Morgret said.
Allen grew up in the Detroit and Highland Park area, but moved to the Ann Arbor area for a few years when he was young, Morgret said. The two met while attending Scarlett Middle School in Ann Arbor. Allen then moved back to the Detroit area and attended Highland Park High School.
After high school, Allen worked a variety of factory-type jobs before getting into the trouble that landed him in prison, Morgret said.
“When he came home, he did a 360,” said Morgret. “He took his job very seriously. He worked his butt off.”
Allen worked at Marsh Plating Corp. for about a year, according to Morgret. The two lived together in Ypsilanti area, but frequently saw his two daughters from a previous relationship.
“He loved his family,” said older brother Erik Allen, 39, of Oak Park. “He adored (the girls).”
Both Von's brother and fiancee remember him for being a crazy, fun-loving guy.
“He’d keep a smile on your face,” Morgret said. “He was genuine. He always was the life of the party.”
Allen also is survived by his sister, Cyidha Allen; brother, James; and his mother, Virginia Allen, 59, who is currently in supervised care due to congestive heart failure, Erik Allen said. Their father is deceased.
Friends and family members were stunned to hear about the shooting.
“I would have never imagined in a million years something like this would happen,” said Morgret, who added she is “devastated” over the loss of her fiance.
Erik Allen also was surprised, considering his little brother seemed to be doing so good.
“He was doing everything right,” he said. “It’s mind-boggling. It’s real somber around here. Everyone is real shaken up.”
Police believe Ware shot Allen on South Grove Street near South Street about 4 p.m. Wednesday following a dispute at work over job performance issues. Huron Valley Ambulance paramedics took Allen to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Superior Township, but he died on the way, according to police.
The pair argued as they walked down South Grove on opposite sides of the street. Allen crossed Grove as the men approached the South Street intersection. Allen might have been expecting a continuation of the wrestling-type of physical contact the two were engaged in earlier at work when the fight started, police said.
“I don’t think he knew he had a gun,” Ypsilanti police Sgt. Thomas Eberts said. “The shooting happened immediately.”
Courtesy of Amy Morgret
Ware then allegedly fled on foot back toward Marsh Plating. A Belleville man working nearby at the time of the shooting followed the fleeing suspect to that area after hearing the gunshots. The man told AnnArbor.com he last saw the suspect near the plant before police arrived and put him into a patrol car for his own safety. Sheriff's officers used a dog to search Marsh Plating but lost the track by a nearby railroad.
Morgret said Allen may have mentioned Ware’s name to her in the past, but not in any way that would indicate to her that there was conflict between the two men.
“If he did, it wasn’t anything I remembered,” she said. “(Von) talked a lot.”
Morgret said the family is looking for donations for a funeral ceremony, which is currently being planned. In the meantime, she and Allen’s family are still coping with the loss and hoping police resolve the case quickly.
“We just really want to find out who did this and why,” Morgret said. “I’ll never see him again. It’s ridiculous. He’ll never be able to see his family again.”