Public Safety

2 dead, officer ambushed as Davenport protests turn violent

Davenport mayor says he will ask for the National Guard

Davenport Mayor Mike Matson and Chief Paul Sikorski hold an early-morning news conference on June 1, 2020. (Screen image
Davenport Mayor Mike Matson and Chief Paul Sikorski hold an early-morning news conference on June 1, 2020. (Screen image from Davenport PD Facebook video)
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Associated Press

DAVENPORT — A Davenport police officer was shot and wounded early Monday in what officials described as an ambush, and two people were killed in shootings as civil unrest stemming from the death of George Floyd spread across the city.

Police Chief Paul Sikorski announced that two people had died in separate shootings: One outside a Walmart on the city’s west side and one near where the officer was injured in an exchange of gunfire. The deaths were under investigation and no further details were immediately available Monday.

Another person was injured in gunfire at a jewelry store, officials said.

Scott County imposed a curfew starting 9 p.m. Monday, citing the unrest, and officials said they would ask Gov. Kim Reynolds to call on the Iowa National Guard to provide assistance in maintaining order.

During a news conference early Monday, Mayor Mike Matson urged residents to secure their homes, cars, guns and businesses.

“There are several things that our citizens can do tonight to help keep our community safe,” he said. “Please be vigilant tonight and report any suspicious activity you may see in your neighborhood. Keep your house locked, your windows locked, your cars locked and your guns locked away. Please keep all exterior lights on throughout the night the illuminate our neighborhoods. If you see something, say something. We received valuable information from citizens last night that allowed our officers to more effectively shut down this rash of violence.”

Matson said he had attended a peaceful protest Saturday with hundreds of people outraged by the death of Floyd, a black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis. But he said the violence that began late Sunday was unacceptable and he praised officers from neighboring towns for offering assistance.

“As the citizens of Davenport woke up this morning to the news of the destruction that occurred overnight, it is appropriate to grieve what our community has been put through,” the mayor said. “It is OK to be angry, it is OK to be scared. But let us not grow weary of doing what is right. We have received several messages this morning encouraging our officers and thanking them for their service.

Chief Sikorski said the trouble began late Sunday with disturbances around NorthPark Mall, where more than 100 vehicles gathered. By early Monday, police had responded to 45 serious disturbance calls, including dozens of confirmed shots fired, he said.

The vehicles were loosely organized, Sikorski said, calling their occupants “rioters.”

“That’s what they were doing this evening,” he said. “All of the things that we responded to throughout the night were acts of violence.”

The violence unfolded across Davenport, a city of 100,000 people that is the third largest in Iowa.

At 3 a.m., a police vehicle carrying three officers was moving down an alley in a neighborhood in the city center when the occupants of another vehicle opened fire, Sikorski said.

Several rounds struck the police vehicle and one officer was wounded. That officer is recovering at a hospital and in “good spirits,” he said.

At least one officer returned fire.

Sikorski said a shooting death happened nearby and was under investigation. No other details were released and it wasn’t clear whether the death was caused by an officer.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation has been called in to investigate, and two officers have been placed on administrative leave, the chief said.

A vehicle that fled the scene of that shooting later crashed after a chase, and several occupants were arrested, he said. It was not clear what role if any the occupants played in the shooting.

Outside a jewelry store in a commercial district on the city’s northeast side, a person was wounded in a shooting that left 30 shell casings at the scene, Sikorski said. Police later arrested a 28-year-old motorist who showed up at a hospital with a gunshot victim, saying he fired shots at the scene.

Authorities did not release details of other arrests.

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