Victim's son on planned Taylor killing spree suspect: 'We couldn't believe he was out'

Posted at 6:27 PM, Feb 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-09 18:26:58-05

Keith Kitchen was shot and killed in the office of the trucking company he operated with his son, Justin.

And Justin is talking to 7 Action News about their ex-worker, Vernest Griffin, now facing murder charges in what police have called a planned killing spree. 

"We couldn't believe he was out," said Justin about Griffin, who was already facing assault charges from a frightening ordeal in November when Griffin was angry, believing he was owed more money in his last check. 

Justin says his dad had to fire Griffin earlier because he was costing them money, living inside one of their trucks and not willing to work as hard as their other drivers.

And the day after Thanksgiving, Griffin came back and flew into a rage, allegedly holding Justin, his dad and one of their employees hostage, threatening to shoot Justin if they didn't give him more money. 

Justin says Griffin had the gun pointed at him and when Griffin turned his head for a moment, Justin bolted out of the door with Griffin chasing after him.

"I was zigzagging through the yard trying not to get shot," said Justin.

Griffin was facing felonies in that case, and Justin's family and friends were simply shocked when they found out Griffin was able to post just $500 for his release. 

"The judges have no idea how close that day was for me," said Justin. "I thought I was going to die that day."

As Griffin remains under arrest, facing murder charges for allegedly killing Kitchen and Eriberto Perez in Pontiac, Justin is trying to focus on his family and the business, doing what his dad would have wanted him to do. 

"Do what we can and grow the company and be stronger than ever," said Justin. 

Over the years, Kitchen turned down job offers of higher pay to continue to work with his son. And because he didn't have life insurance, loved ones have set up a GoFundMe account to help the widow he leaves behind.