Victim: Tamika Swanson, 15
Murderer: Leonard Williams, 16
Crime date: December 10, 1990
Crime location: Benton Harbor
On December 10, 1990, Leonard Dee Williams, (dob 12/6/1974), age 16, of Benton Harbor, was a member of a gang that was in a stand-off with another gang walking through neighborhoods in Benton Harbor. Williams and 2 others shot guns at each other killing a bystander, Tamika Swanson, age 15. Swanson was killed with a bullet from Williams’ .22 caliber pistol.
Williams and his fellow gang members were in a verbal altercation with a rival gang while attending a basketball game at McCord Junior High. Both gangs eventually left the school, walking, and were told not to return. Shortly thereafter, Williams heard several gunshots, presumably from a member of the rival gang. As a result, he and several friends left to retrieve guns of their own – a .38 caliber handgun, a .32 caliber handgun, and a .22 caliber handgun carried by Williams. Upon their return, Williams and his friends hid behind a house near the intersection of Clay and Ogden until members of the rival gang walked by, then jumped out and proceeded to fire numerous shots into the crowd. Tamika Swanson, a 15 year old who had left the game and was walking with a group of friends — including several members of the rival gang – was struck once in the head with a .22 caliber bullet. Ms. Swanson died as a result of her wound.
After the shooting, Williams and his friends ran to a girlfriend’s house and hid their guns
under a bedroom mattress. In a statement to police after his arrest, Williams admitted that he and his friends had intended to shoot members of the rival gang.
Williams was convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. One of
William’s co-defendants pled guilty to 2nd degree murder and was sentenced to a minimum of
25 years in prison. A second co-defendant went to trial and was convicted of 1st degree murder. Tamika Swanson was a ninth grader at McCord Junior High School.