Former SMC student gets probation for attacking student

Published 11:00 am Saturday, March 25, 2023

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CASSOPOLIS — A former Southwestern Michigan College student was sentenced to probation Friday in Cass County Circuit Court for attacking a fellow student last September on the Dowagiac SMC campus. 

Jeremiah Whickum-Ray, 19, now of Kalamazoo, pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to two years probation, credit for 84 days served and $2,328 in fines and costs. He is to have an anger management assessment and possible treatment. 

The incident occurred Sept. 20, 2022 on the Dowagiac campus of Southwestern Michigan College when he punched another student and threatened him with scissors.  

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz called the incident an “extremely serious offense.” “It’s no light-hearted matter,” he said. “This is a tranquil campus, people expect to feel safe without fear of injury or death. He violated that in the most serious of ways.” 

“This has certainly had an impact on the victim,” Fitz added. “He’s worrying about the defendant and others, he has trouble sleeping, his grades have suffered and it’s changed his life.” 

Defense attorney Robert Kardatzke said his client has no prior felonies and a limited criminal record. “He wishes he could have handled things better, said words and walked away,” he said. 

“My actions were completely wrong,” Whickum-Ray said. “I shouldn’t have lost my temper like that. I’ve seen a whole bunch of stuff in jail that I don’t want to go back to. I wouldn’t wish this on anybody. I don’t have any hate in my heart. I’ve moved to Kalamazoo and he doesn’t have to worry about me anymore.” 

“Everyone makes mistakes, this was the first time I went to jail for my actions,” he added. “I can’t do anything but ask for another chance. I thought about everything I did for 84 days.” 

“I hope you realize what you do with your life can have an impact on others,” Cass County Circuit Judge Mark Herman said. “If you had jused those scissors and injured him, you would be putting your plans on hold and possibly even going to prison.” 

“If somebody mouths off to you and it escalates, you don’t know if they have a gun,” the judge added. “Like with road rage incidents, how many people end up getting shot? The best revenge is to prove them wrong, get your degree and prove you’re a better man.”