Juvenile faces involuntary manslaughter charges in death of girl, 13

Police unsure what led to shooting death of Ireshia Parks

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Six teenagers sat in a car on the southeast side of Cedar Rapids Tuesday morning when a gun somehow fired, the bullet striking Ireshia Parks, 13, in the head.

Parks later died at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids and a 13-year-old male suspect now faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

“There was no dispute or argument among them in the car, said Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman. “We’re still trying to determine what happened inside the car.”

Jerman said he is at a loss for words to describe the feeling of losing another young person to gun violence. This is the third such death in about one year in Cedar Rapids.

He expressed added sadness in light of Ireshia being a great niece of Latasha Roundtree, who was shot and killed in 2012 at the age of 19 while in a car. Tajh Ross was convicted of first-degree murder in the case and is serving life in prison.

“Not only as a police chief, but as a parent myself, I can’t imagine the pain and grief they are going through,” Jerman said. “This is senseless and preventable. My sympathies go out to parents who lose children, especially the mother in this case.

“I want to prevent another mother from experiencing this kind of grief.”

The Investigation

Police are still working to piece together exactly what happened the morning of the fatal shooting.

Cedar Rapids Public Safety spokesman Greg Buelow said police received a call at 7:52 a.m. Tuesday regarding a female shot in the 800 block of 15th Street SE. Officers in the area immediately responded, Buelow said.

Witnesses told officers there were male suspects at the scene of the incident who were running in the alley between 15th and 16th streets SE. Officers, including K-9 units, apprehended two suspects in the 1500 block of Bever Avenue SE and a third suspect in the 1500 block of Washington Avenue SE, Buelow said, adding the three suspects were in custody within 10 minutes of police receiving the call.

In addition to the involuntary manslaughter charge, the 13-year-old male suspect is charged with carrying weapons and interference with official acts. He is accused of unintentionally discharging the handgun and is in juvenile custody, Jerman said.

A 15-year-old male suspect is charged with interference with official acts and also is in juvenile custody, police said.

Dquon Morrow, 18, of Cedar Rapids, also is charged with interference with official acts. He has been released from custody, police said.

First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks said a criminal complaint for Morrow was not available Wednesday, but he is accused of running from police.

Buelow explained the criminal complaints for the two juvenile suspects charged are not open to the public, except in cases of forcible felonies, according to a law that took effect in July.

Jerman said a handgun was recovered as police conducted their investigation, but it was not reported as stolen and is not believed to be the firearm that discharged in the car. Officers searched the area for another gun, but did not find one, Jerman said, adding it is unknown at this time how the teens in the car obtained a gun.

Maybanks asks that anyone with evidence or information in the case come forward.

“We are pleading with members of that neighborhood and any other neighborhoods plagued by continuous gun violence to report immediately to the police the presence of any illegal firearms in their community,” he said. “We have to keep guns out of the hands of children if we want this from happening over and over again.”

Buelow said officers from various agencies, including the Iowa State Patrol and Mount Vernon Police Department were in the area helping with flood patrol duties when the report of a shooting came in. Those officers assisted Cedar Rapids police in quickly apprehending the suspects.

Residents in the neighborhood also helped with the process, as did Ireshia’s sister and another girl, who were in the car at the time of the shooting, Jerman said.

He added an autopsy on Ireshia is pending at the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner in Ankeny.

Nervous Neighbors

Kevin Boike Jr., who has lived in the 1500 block of Eighth Avenue SE since April, said Tuesday’s shooting has made him think twice about living in the neighborhood. He said he’s heard about other gun violence happening in the area.

“Kids shooting kids, changing lives forever — it’s scary,” he said.

Courtney Cummins, 16, who lives in the 800 block of 15th Street NE, said she is also concerned about living in the area.

“Nobody wants to be around that,” she said. “The girl died and now her family has to live with that. She still had a whole life in front of her.

“I don’t want that happening.”

Cummins is a student at Washington High School and said she knows people in her school who joke about using guns.

“They joke around with fighting and (make guns with their hands),” she said. “I don’t think taking guns away is right at all, but I don’t think they should just be able to go around town carrying it and shooting people.”

Shelley Campbell said her 18-year-old granddaughter and 1-year-old great-granddaughter were sitting on the front porch of their home in the 700 block of 15th Street SE at the time of the shooting. She, too, expressed concerns over how safe the neighborhood is.

“I personally don’t think it is,” she said. “I’ve been around for a while and I don’t think much has changed over here. I was nervous as heck when (her granddaughter) moved here.

“You have to keep to yourself pretty much.”

A vigil for Parks took place Tuesday evening near the scene of the shooting. More than 100 people attended, some holding candles and balloons and many pleading with young people present to stand against gun violence.

“I pray God makes them understand these guns are not toys,” Tammi Williams, a mother at the vigil, said. “These are babies. So many guns are among these babies.”

Three Cedar Rapids teenagers have been charged in connection to shooting deaths in a little more than a year.

Last September, Robert Humbles, then 14, shot and killed Aaron Richardson, 15. In March, 15-year-old Senquez Jackson died less than 24 hours after police say he was shot by 13-year-old Dennis Warren.

The day after Jackson was shot in March, Kanyauta Vesey-Keith, 16, shot Brandon Johnson, 21, and a 16-year-old during a fight, police said. Johnson died from his injuries.

Loss of a Friend

Rich Jackson, a counselor at Roosevelt Middle School in Cedar Rapids, has set up a GoFundMe page on behalf of Latrice Roundtree, who he said is Parks’ mother.

Jackson said he set up the page to help Parks’ family cover funeral expenses. As of Wednesday evening, 42 donations totaling $1,335 had been made to the fund, which is aiming to raise $10,000.

Jackson said Parks’ sister, now a freshman, had attended Roosevelt Middle School, and Parks had attended Roosevelt for a short time before attending Taft Middle School.

“A lot of kids (are) upset and mourning the loss of a friend,” Jackson said.

He said the Cedar Rapids Community School District plans to offer counseling services to help students cope with the loss of such a young student.

Schools are canceled for the remainder of the week due to the flood, but are set to resume Monday.

Fatal teen shootings since last September

Click on the markers for details

Map by John McGlothlen / The Gazette

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