116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DAVENPORT — With evidence showing two large groups got in confrontation early Sunday and fired over 80 gunshots, Davenport Mayor Mike Matson said Monday he has asked Iowa’s governor and U.S. senators to help the state’s third-largest city deal with the gun violence surge.
Matson, Police Chief Paul Sikorski and representatives from the NAACP and Davenport Peace decried the violence — which was captured on video surveillance atop a parking garage — during a news conference Monday afternoon.
Matson said he has sought help from Gov. Kim Reynolds and Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst to combat the latest spate of gun violence.
Davenport police recovered nearly 80 spent casings of different calibers from the top floor of the Redstone Parking Ramp, 129 N. Main St. after the incident about 2 a.m. Sunday No one was known to be injured, but Sikorski said those involved aren't cooperating with police.
The Figge Art Museum and the Davenport skybridge suffered damage from the gunfire.
It is the latest in a series of gun crimes that have left two teenagers dead, and have kept Davenport police busy reporting to gunfire calls. In 2020, there were 279 such calls, an all-time high. In comparison, the larger Cedar Rapids had 163 verified shots fired incidents in 2020, according to its police department's data.
Matson wants state and federal help to turn the situation around. He spoke with Reynolds about sending Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation officials to help with forensic examinations and investigations of violent crime and gunfire. Matson also asked Reynolds to reassign troopers to help patrol state highways within the city.
Pat Garrett, spokesman for the governor's office, said Reynolds has instructed the Department of Public safety to work with the Davenport Police Department "to provide any additional assistance or resources as needed." He did not elaborate.
Matson said he also spoke with or exchanged emails with staff for Grassley and Ernst requesting "technical and analytical" assistance from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Grassley's representatives said they were working to schedule a meeting with Davenport city officials to discuss additional assistance.
"Senator Grassley has said that gun crimes cannot be tolerated in our communities, and it’s critical that gun laws on the books be enforced at all levels of government," a spokesman said.
A representative for Ernst said the senator and her staff "look forward to continued discussion with the mayor’s office about ways to address these issues and to curb crime and violence in our communities."
Davenport city officials and civic leaders came together Monday for a news conference.
"We're in a very fortunate situation because I'm not telling you that a 20-year-old is dead, or a 12-year-old is dead, or a 14-year-old is dead," said Chief Sikorski. "We're in a fortunate situation here. That's a mess down there, but it's an opportunity for us to take that exclamation point from that video and do something with it."
The Rev. Melvin Grimes from the NAACP and Stephen Eckles from Davenport Peace spoke about the role community members can play in preventing gun violence, especially among youth.
"We have to stand together, be together, and be the voice and the grit of this community," Eckles said.
Matson said city officials have discussed "making some changes pretty quickly and adjust some (policing) strategies" to address the gun violence, but was not willing to say what those strategies might be as they've yet to be finalized.
The city is looking to add officers and is "in a continuous recruiting process," he said. "We’re talking about how we can recruit more."
The Davenport Civil Rights Commission has called for reallocating a portion of the policing budget to increase programs to address poverty, mental health, substance abuse and homelessness.
But the City Council has not moved forward on those requests. Instead, city leaders have urged state lawmakers to allow Iowa cities to raise a new, dedicated tax for the purpose of increasing public safety personnel.
Matson on Monday reiterated the city's call for the Iowa Legislature "to give us the authority to ask the public" whether its willing to pay more in property taxes to provide additional resources dedicated to reducing crime.
Ten exterior glass panels at the Figge Art Museum downtown were shot out in the gunfire, but the bullets did not breach the building.
At least five bullets also appeared to have pierced one panel of the nearby skybridge windows, and the passageway is closed until repairs are made.