Vigil Held for Cedar Rapids Shooting Victim
By Jillian Petrus, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Former Cedar Rapids Washington High School basketball player Latasha Roundtree was remembered for her passion and potential on the day after she was fatally shot.
Roundtree, 19, died hours after being shot in the 600 block of 16th Avenue Southwest Saturday night. Cedar Rapids police responded to the area Saturday about 10 p.m. following a report of shots fired. The police said Roundtree received treatment for gunshot wounds at Mercy Hospital and died hours later at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics as a result of her injuries.
Investigators are treating Roundtree’s death as a homicide. No arrests have been made.
Sunday, 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.
Howell said many people loved and respected Roundtree. He said that makes her death all the more difficult.
“So many people believed in her,” Howell said. “I still don’t know if it’s completely hit me at all to tell you the truth.”
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