Family Friends of Cedar Rapids Murder Victim Talk About Gun Violence
By Jullian Petrus, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Family and friends of Latasha Roundtree say the young Cedar Rapids woman is yet another victim of increasing gun violence in the community.
The 19-year-old former Cedar Rapids Washington High School athlete died early Sunday morning. Investigators believe someone shot Roundtree late Saturday night. She died hours later at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Police have not named any suspects or made any arrests in this case.
On Monday, family members and friends talked about the violence surrounding Latasha's death.
"All this gun violence needs to stop. Why do kids think they need to be tough and walk around with a gun?" said relative Lashenga Roundtree. "That's not this area. That's not suppose to happen out here in the real world where people love their families ."
Cedar Rapids Washington girls basketball coach Frank Howell fondly recalled his former player, who was known as “Tasha” or “Tasha Mac.”
“She had one of the most energetic and warm smiles that you’re ever going to see,” Howell said. “She played with passion on both ends of the floor.”
Howell, along with many other school administrators, had high hopes for Roundtree’s future. The team’s starting point guard last year as a senior averaged 9 points and 5 assists per game before tearing her anterior cruciate ligament in a Regional Final loss to Iowa City High. She had accepted an offer to play basketball at William Penn University in Oskaloosa. However, Howell said Roundtree, who was going to redshirt this season, recently returned to Cedar Rapids.
“I don’t know if she had the patience to sit out the year,” he said.
The choice to leave school disappointed Howell and Washington Principal Dr. Ralph Plagman.
“Tasha had a lot of potential,” Plagman said. “She was a very gifted athlete and had a wonderful personality.”
Plagman said many administrators wanted desperately to see Roundtree succeed. He said his staff knew Roundtree did not have an easy up-bringing, and many of his teachers treated her like family.
Tragedy marked her teenage years. Her mother, Angela Roundtree, died in July 2006 when one of two cars drag racing along Mount Vernon Road crashed into Roundtree’s car killing her.
“She could have gone on to do great things,” Plagman said. “Unfortunately, she faced many obstacles in her life.”
On Sunday, news of Roundtree’s death spread quickly across social media sites, including Twitter and Facebook. Former teammates and students posted comments remembering Roundtree as a free spirit with a goofy personality. One former teammate said she wished she could play basketball with Tasha one last time.
Hundreds of friends, students, teachers and some family held a candle light prayer vigil Sunday night at the corner of 5th Avenue and 14th Street Southwest. Friends passed around a basketball to sign in her memory. Many shared stories and tears grieving the loss of their friend.
"It's sad to see something like this happen to anybody," said close friend, Morris Williams. "She didn't deserve this at all."
A fund has been established for the Roundtree family set up at Collins Community Credit Union in Cedar Rapids, and they can be reached at (319) 393-9000.
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