Public Safety

Deadly Christmas shooting in Coralville slow to be solved because of uncooperative witnesses

'There are days I feel like we're the only ones who care about the death of Gregory Jackson,' police chief says

Law enforcement officers Dec. 26, 2019, search a car parked behind a building in the 900 block of Boston Way in Coralvil
Law enforcement officers Dec. 26, 2019, search a car parked behind a building in the 900 block of Boston Way in Coralville as part of an investigation into a shooting that left one person dead and three injured the night before. (Lee Hermiston/The Gazette)
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CORALVILLE — Gunshots erupted about 9:22 p.m. on Christmas in the 900 block of Boston Way in Coralville.

The shooting left one man — 30-year-old Gregory Jackson of Iowa City — dead and three others injured.

Coralville police said the fatal shooting wasn’t random and they believe everyone involved knows each other in some capacity.

What’s happened since

“Many, many people” know what happened on Christmas night when Jackson was killed, Coralville police Chief Shane Kron said.

But knowing what happened and producing evidence to prove the elements of the crime in court are two different things. Kron said his detectives and state investigators are still working to produce the evidence needed to get an arrest and conviction in the homicide investigation.

“I think we have a pretty good idea of what happened,” Kron said. “But knowing what happened and producing the evidence, there can be quite a separation between those things. We know many of the people involved. It’s just a question of will we find the evidence?”

Coralville officers on Dec. 25 responded to the 900 block of Boston Way for a report of gunshots. Police said they recovered “many” shell casings from the scene. One neighbor described hearing about 10 gunshots.

Police previously said the shooting was not random. Kron expanded on that, saying the killing “stemmed from a dispute earlier in the day.”

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“It just kind of took off,” he said. “At the end of the day, when the whole story comes out, people are going to wonder why Greg Jackson had to die. It’s not going to make any sense.”

Kron said 12 people — his entire seven-member detective bureau, plus five agents from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation — continue to investigate the case every day. He said the team is making progress.

“It’s just slow,” Kron said. “It’s little bits of information at time.”

One reason for the sluggish pace is witnesses and victims not cooperating with authorities. Kron said there’s not a sole reason for that lack of cooperation.

“For some people, they don’t trust the police,” he said. “Some people don’t cooperate, ever. ... It’s pretty unusual to run into this many known witnesses who know nothing. There are days where I feel like we’re the only ones who care about the death of Gregory Jackson.”

Asked about any potential retaliation for the killing, Kron said, “that’s always a concern.”

No weapons have been recovered, and Kron said he couldn’t comment on the type of weapon or weapons used in the shooting. He said more than 50 interviews have been conducted and some people have been interviewed multiple times. No arrest warrants have been obtained in the homicide.

Kron said he could not say if the other shooting victims were allies in the confrontation or whether any of the surviving victims are facing charges.

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The homicide is Coralville’s first in nearly four-and-a-half years and vastly different from the previous case.

On June 12, 2015, former Coral Ridge Mall security guard Alexander Kozak shot and killed 21-year-old Andrea Farrington inside the Coral Ridge Mall. Kozak fled the shooting, but was arrested on Interstate 80. He was later convicted.

Despite the different circumstances of the two cases and the time that’s passed, Kron said he is confident in his detective bureau’s ability to handle the homicide investigation since the standard for all criminal cases remains the same.

“You still interview people,” he said. “You still ask questions. You still want the whole story.”

While the case remains unsolved, Kron said he is confident Coralville is a safe community for its residents and visitors.

“It’s targeted, it’s not random,” Kron said of the fatal shooting. “Many people knew there was going to be a confrontation. Many people left because they knew there was a confrontation coming. This is a very safe community where random crime almost never happens. We just do not see crime between people who don’t know each other.”

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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