IOWA CITY

Shooting near Iowa City's Mercer Park under investigation

Iowa City police investigate a reported shooting near Mercer Park in Iowa City on the evening of June 13, 2019. (Lee Hermiston, The Gazette)
Iowa City police investigate a reported shooting near Mercer Park in Iowa City on the evening of June 13, 2019. (Lee Hermiston, The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — Shots fired. And then chaos.

A witness said parents and children scrambled for safety Thursday evening after shots were fired near a busy Iowa City park.

Patrick Weldon and his wife Alexa were walking toward the entrance of Mercer Park around 6 p.m. to go play Pokemon Go. Weldon said he and his wife, who live nearby on Arthur Street, take nightly walks through the park.

“As I was walking toward the entrance to Mercer, you just hear pop, pop, pop, pop,” said Weldon, who serves in the U.S. Army Reserve. “Everyone just kind of froze.”

UPDATE: Vehicles found, persons of interest identified in shooting near Mercer Park

Weldon said as he turned around toward the sound of the gunfire he heard tires squealing. A car ran through a stop sign at the intersection of Baker Street and Bradford Drive. The car hit another vehicle traveling on Bradford, sending it up the curb and into a tree.

Meanwhile, everyone at the park — which Weldon said was full, with kids everywhere — fled.

“They were running,” he said. “Everybody was running. Grabbing their kids and running.”

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Weldon, who called 911 to alert police about the shooting, said he heard five or six shots, but couldn’t tell exactly where they were coming from.

“By the time I had gotten around, he or she had fired five or six shots,” he said. “I could hear the tires spinning. Everyone was just screaming.”

Iowa City police confirmed Thursday night they responded to the 1200 block of Baker Street for a report of gunshots being fired from one occupied car toward another occupied car.

“The involved vehicles and occupants were reported by witnesses to have left the area before officers’ arrivals,” a news release reads. “Investigating officers were able to locate and collect potential evidence from the area, including shell casings and bullets.”

No injuries have been reported and police are asking nearby residents with security cameras to contact the police department if they have any footage or information to share.

Dan Duong, who lives near Mercer Park, said his wife was driving the car that was hit by someone fleeing the scene. As he was coming over from his home to assist his wife, he said he saw people fleeing the park.

“All of the kids had all run away,” he said. “Everybody just ran.”

City High Principal John Bacon said the sophomore baseball team was practicing nearby at the time of the shooting. When they heard the shots fired, the coach gathered the team together and ended practice.

“Coach made sure everyone got on their way safely,” Bacon said, adding an email was sent to parents.

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City High does have events scheduled at Mercer for Friday and plan to go forward with them, assuming they get approval from the police department.

“I just hope and pray they apprehend the people responsible for this,” Bacon said. “That’s just unacceptable.”

Iowa City Area Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in this incident. Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 358-8477.

• Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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