116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man on probation for robbery and gun convictions was charged last week after being found with a gun as a felon and running from a house that’s been under surveillance because of gunfire reports that have terrorized neighbors for months.
The neighbors have been frustrated and concerned because they say shots have been fired at the house at 1748 C Ave. NE and residents or others at the house have returned fire, which resulted in bullets coming through a neighbor’s home and a homeowner almost being hit in his living room.
This is the first arrest stemming from those shots fired calls at the house. The neighbors said they were aware of a similar situation that The Gazette reported on last year about a house on Bever Avenue SE that the city declared a nuisance property. The Bever Avenue house was owned by the same property company that owns 1748 C Ave. NE.
Thursday, Cedar Rapids officers with the Police Community Action Team, which focuses on gun violence and problem offenders, had the house at 1748 C Avenue NE under surveillance, according to a criminal complaint. This address has been associated with several individuals known to carry guns, the complaint said.
One of them, Royal R. Jones, 19, was with two others leaving the house Thursday under “suspicious circumstances,” according to the complaint. An officer approached Jones and he ran from the officer and refused to “obey lawful orders” during a foot pursuit.
The officer fell during the pursuit, causing a small abrasion, tenderness and swelling to his left arm, the complaint stated. He then saw Jones make an “exaggerated gesture with his right hand on the front of his pants, “as if to reach for a firearm.” When Jones was caught minutes later, the officer retraced Jones path and found a firearm without a serial number, known as a “ghost gun.”
Jones was charged Friday with being felon in possession of a firearm and interference with official acts while armed with a firearm, both felonies, and interference with official acts resulting in bodily injury and person ineligible to carry dangerous weapons, both serious misdemeanors. He was being held on a $10,000 and $15,000 cash bail.
According to the complaint, Jones was on a weekend pass from the Lary Nelson Center, where the court ordered him to serve his term of probation on a conviction from last year for second-degree robbery and going armed with intent. Jones, originally charged with first-degree robbery, pleaded to the lesser charges and received a deferred judgment and three years’ probation.
According to court documents, prosecutors asked the court to revoke Jones’ probation twice because of numerous probation violations, but instead two different judges found him in contempt and gave him 60 days in jail for each.
The neighbors told The Gazette in early March about a group of men who walked by the C Avenue home Feb. 26 and fired shots at the house. They said individuals inside the house then returned fire and those bullets came through their nearby home.
Mary Sullivan said one bullet came through the living room window, just above the head of her husband, David Combs. She said a second bullet was lodged in the porch railing and there were one or two shell casings in the yard. Some of the other neighbors also had bullets from shootings in their house.
The police responded to this incident and others, but usually the suspects were gone before police arrived. In some of the incidents, the residents in C Avenue house were considered victims by police because others were shooting at them.
Cedar Rapids police Lt. Tony Robinson, in March said police were investigating several shots-fired incidents that occurred in the 1700 block of C Avenue NE.
“Investigators are following up on leads, interviewing witnesses and analyzing evidence collected from the scenes,” Robinson said in an email. The Patrol Division along with the Police Community Action Team has increased their presence and patrols of the area as a response.”
Jamie Fenoglio, another neighbor, noticed more police in the area in March and said the landlord or workers had installed surveillance cameras outside the C Avenue house.
Fenoglio and Sullivan said the situation has been frustrating and unnerving.
Sullivan sent letters about her concerns to city leaders, police and a lawyer for Property Holders, the company that owns the C Avenue property. She said she received a response only from Dale Todd, a City Council member and member of Public Safety and Youth Services Committee, who reached out to Sullivan and her husband.
Mari Davis, administrator of Property Holders who runs the day-to-day operations, said in an email Friday she was aware of the arrest of Jones, but the management, staff and contractors don’t know him or why he may have been in the neighborhood. He isn’t a tenant at the home, and the tenant told her he doesn’t know Jones.
There has been a contractor working on porch steps at the house over the past two or three days and the contractor hasn’t reported any incidents, Davis said. Police or SAFE-CR, the city program that oversees property issues, hadn’t contacted her about the recent events, she added.
Davis said she has been involved with working with SAFE-CR regarding concerns about this property and has also talked to some of the neighbors and planned to do more follow up with them.
As to the shots fired incidents, she said those were allegations about shots coming from the house but there also have been shots fired at the tenants and at Property Holders property.
Davis said after those incidents, the company installed surveillance cameras, as one neighbor mentioned, to record activities and work with police to arrest those involved.
“I’m more than happy to work with any of the neighbors regarding their concerns,” Davis said in the email. “At this point, I would think that CRPD or SAFE-CR will be in contact with me regarding any concerns pertaining to our rental property or tenants on C Ave NE.”
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