Public Safety

Gun violence in Cedar Rapids surging so far this year

Number of shots-fired incidents in July most on record

Police tape marks off a scene July 12 under investigation by Cedar Rapids police officers on Curtis Street SW. Earlier t
Police tape marks off a scene July 12 under investigation by Cedar Rapids police officers on Curtis Street SW. Earlier that day police were called to the 100 block of Curtis Street and found Keyshawn Allers, 19, shot multiple times. Allers, of Palo, died at the scene. No arrest have been made in the case so far. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Even though the coronavirus pandemic has kept people close to home for months, the numbers of homicides and shots-fired incidents in Cedar Rapids already have exceeded last year’s totals, with April through July being some of the most violent on record.

As of July 28, data from the Cedar Rapids Police Department shows the city has seen 105 shootings, with July being the most active month. Of those, 36 incidents resulted in injury or death.

In 17 instances, a suspect was identified, the police department said, and in five instances a suspect was “partially identified.” In 22 incidents, police were given “some description” of a suspect and in 14 instances, no description was given.

In 2019, in comparison, Cedar Rapids police reported a total of 100 shootings for the entire year. By end of July last year, there had been 52 reported incidents.

Data shows there were 28 shots-fired incidents recorded between July 1 and 28 — the highest number of instances recorded in one month in all the 12 years the police department has been tracking shots-fired data.

April saw 17 shooting incidents, May saw 16 instances of gunfire and June brought 15 shootings, according to a month-to-month breakdown from police.

The department’s data shows the last time the city saw 17 shootings in one month was July 2014.

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July 2015 was the last time there was 16 shootings in one month and October 2018 was the last time there were 15 reported in a month.

It can be difficult to identify reasons why Cedar Rapids has seen the increase in violence this year, but public safety spokesperson Greg Buelow said the increase is consistent with a national trend. That said, Buelow noted that the time of year and this years’ unique events could also play a part.

“There is typically a seasonal increase in crime during the summer, coupled with coronavirus and civil unrest,” he said. “Unemployment and uncertainty about financial future, evictions and economic uncertainties can be factors.”

Additionally, Buelow said, the city is continuing to see an impact from ongoing violence between “hybrid gangs” that do not conform to the traditional gang affiliations or codes.

Last weekend was a prime example” of some of the issues police face, he said. “A vehicle left running outside of a liquor store was stolen, then later used in three shots-fired incidents and a theft case, before two suspects were apprehended during a pursuit. You can have a few individuals involved in a multiple number of incidents. There is also hybrid gang ongoing issues, but many (incidents) come down to individuals using firearms to attempt to resolve issues.”

The first half of 2020 also brought nine homicides, a 50 percent increase from the six recorded the previous year.

Of those, seven of the deaths were the result of gunfire and one involved a knife, according to the data. Police have not released a cause of death in the remaining homicide.

“Locally, the vast majority of shooting incidents have been targeted incidents,” Buelow said. “With regards to homicides, there have been two domestic related incidents, six incidents appear to be targeted — whereas the victim and offender or offenders were likely known to each other — and there is one that appears to be random.”

Cedar Rapids saw its first two homicides in January, within four days of each other.

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On Jan. 24, Andrew D. Gaston — an 18-year-old Metro High School student — was shot in the parking lot at 3217 Agin Court NE, in what police said was an attempted drug robbery. Gaston died early the next morning at UnityPoint-St. Luke’s Hospital. Police have arrested two suspects in the death.

Kyler D. Carson, 17, was arrested for voluntary manslaughter, delivery of a controlled substance (marijuana), carrying weapons and obstructing prosecution.

Tyrell J. Gaston, 16, was arrested on charges of first-degree robbery, conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance (marijuana), carrying weapons, and obstructing prosecution.

Police said Andrew and Tyrell Gaston had plotted to rob Kyler Carson of marijuana. Andrew Gaston was fatally shot and Tyrell Gaston was shot in the ankle.

Four days later, on Jan. 28, Eduardo Millan-Ramirez, 22, was shot in the parking lot of Ashton Place Apartment, 634 Ashton Place NE.

Little information has been released about the investigation into his death. No arrests have been made.

On March 4, Tremaine V. Williams, 35, was fatally stabbed at a residence in the 700 block of Eighth Avenue SW.

Williams’ girlfriend, Jacqueline M. Holmes, 36, was arrested. She faces a count of first-degree murder, as well as multiple unrelated charges.

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Eight days later, police responded to a wooded area off northbound Interstate 380 for reports of a body found in a car. The victim was identified as Jordan D. Haynes, 27.

An autopsy ruled the death a homicide, but the cause of death has not been released. No arrests have been made and police are investigating.

Roughly a month later, Judeah Dawson, 16, was shot and killed.

Police said officers responded at 12:23 a.m. April 22 to the 200 block of 15th Street NW for several shots-fired reports. Officers found Dawson down on the street. He had sustained multiple gunshot wounds.

Nine days later, Asia Grice was shot and killed at an apartment at 1610 30th St. NW.

Grice, 25, was pregnant at the time. Police accused her boyfriend, Johnnie Osborne IV, 26, of shooting her and another woman. The second woman — also 25 — survived her injuries.

Osborne faces charges of first-degree murder, nonconsensual termination of a pregnancy, attempted murder and willful injury causing serious injury.

On May 22, Daniel J. Spangler, 69, was found dead inside a residence at 508 B Ave. NW.

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Police were called to the home to conduct a welfare check where they found Spangler on the floor inside.

An autopsy by the State Medical Examiner found the cause of death was a gunshot wound.

No arrests have been made. Buelow said Spangler’s killing is the one homicide incident that appears to be random.

On June 18, Malik J. Sheets, 20, was shot at a residence in the 1000 block of Regent Street NE. He was taken to UnityPoint-St. Luke’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Buelow said the preliminary investigation found there was a large party at the home. An argument broke out and shots were fired. No arrests have been made.

A little less than a month later, the city’s ninth homicide victim was killed.

Buelow said officers were called July 12 to the Summit View Village in the 100 block of Curtis Street SW where they found Keyshawn Allers, 19, shot multiple times.

Allers, of Palo, died at the scene, police said. No arrests have been made.

Anyone with information regarding these cases is encouraged to call the Cedar Rapids Police Department at (319) 286-5491 or Linn County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-CS-CRIME.

Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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