Food Service & Agriculture, Law, and Retail

Grand Rapids pizzeria owner murdered

October 5, 2018
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The owner of a Grand Rapids pizzeria has been fatally stabbed.

Joey Vitale, 31, a third-generation restaurateur and owner of Burton Heights Pizza, was attacked shortly after 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the pizzeria, at 315 Burton St. SW, according to the Grand Rapids Police Department.

The GRPD said the attack happened when the suspect, Tony Streets Jr., 33, allegedly created a disturbance in the pizzeria and refused to leave.

Streets then allegedly robbed another victim in the parking lot and attempted to steal a car from a third victim, while fleeing on foot, the GRPD said.

Vitale tried to drive himself to Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, about three miles away.

He crashed his vehicle on Wealthy Street SE, just east of South Division Avenue, and a nearby Grand Rapids police officer provided emergency treatment before Vitale was taken to the hospital, the GRPD said.

The GRPD said he died overnight from his injuries, which the Kent County Medical Examiner's Office said were due to the stabbing. The office ruled the death a homicide.

This is the eighth Grand Rapids homicide in 2018, according to the GRPD.

A police dog was used to help track down the suspect, who was arrested not far from the pizzeria, the GRPD said.

Streets was then taken into custody, interviewed and arrested on the additional crimes that had taken place in the area.

He is expected to be arraigned today on several charges involving the stabbing: open murder homicide, armed robbery, carjacking and habitual offender.

The suspect has a criminal history that includes multiple convictions for assault.

Burton Heights Pizza is one of several restaurants operated by the extended Vitale family.

Pizzeria employees and residents held a candlelight vigil Thursday evening outside the business, which has received notes, flowers and other items.

Vitale leaves behind a wife and two daughters. An obituary for Vitale has been posted online.

A funeral mass for Vitale is scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Sorrows in Grand Rapids, at 101 Hall St. SE.

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