Man shot to death in Birmingham’s 5th homicide in 5 days: ‘My brother is no longer here’

By Carol Robinson 

Birmingham Homicide July 5, 2024

A 55-year-old man was shot to death this morning when Birmingham police say he may have heard some kind of commotion outside and stepped out to look.

Family members on the scene identified him as Renard “Keith” West.

“He was a big-hearted person,’’ said his brother, Rufus Ricks. “He’d give you anything he had.”

West in the latest victim in a violent week. He is the city’s fifth homicide victim in five days, the sixth in the past seven days and the 80th so far this year.

“We don’t have any indication the suspect knew the victim, which is very alarming,’’ said Officer Truman Fitzgerald.

Shortly after 4:30 a.m., the city’s gunfire detection system – Shot Spotter – indicated several rounds fired in the 1000 block of Cotton Avenue. Police then received a call that someone had been shot.

Officers arrived to find the victim in the front yard of a home. Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service pronounced him dead on the scene.

Fitzgerald said community members were able to provide a description of the possible suspect. Police found him walking not far from the crime scene and took him into custody without incident.

The suspect was armed with a gun, Fitzgerald said.

“We don’t know the motive,’’ he said. “The victim may have been trying to see what was going. There may have been a commotion nearby and he stepped outside his residence to see what was going on.”

The suspect was handcuffed and photographed at the scene, and then taken to police headquarters for questioning.

“We are extremely thankful the community stepped and was able to provide a description to our officers,’’ Fitzgerald said. “Today is a prime example of the power of the partnership of the community and the police department.”

West’s family said he was living at his cousin’s home, and often slept on the porch.

“Somebody just killed a homeless man,’’ Ricks said. “It’s so hurtful.”

West struggled with some personal issues, but would never hurt anyone, his family said.

“His struggles were with himself,’’ Ricks said, “but he worked every day.”

“He always had everybody laughing,’’ his brother said. “He just wanted everybody to be together and to have a good time.”

“It hasn’t hit me yet that my brother is no longer here,’’ Ricks said.