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Man Makes Initial Appearance in Strip Club Parking Lot Slaying

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A Cedar Rapids man was formally charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the slaying of Raphael C. Blackwell Jr., who was unarmed and fatally shot in the parking lot of a strip club last month.

Dominique Antonio Fisher, 22, who made an initial appearance from the Linn County Jail by video in court Thursday, is accused of pulling out a handgun and fatally shooting Blackwell as Blackwell walked away from him, according to a criminal complaint. Fisher confronted Blackwell in the parking lot of Woody's Show Club, 9395 Sixth St. SW.

The courtroom was packed with family and friends of Blackwell's and Fisher's. Everybody remained quiet during the proceedings.

Sixth Judicial Associate District Judge Russell Keast set Fisher's bond at $3 million cash or surety, based on the nature of the crime and his prior criminal history.

Fisher, who was arrested in his home Wednesday, has previous charges of carrying weapons, simple assault and disorderly contact. He recently pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia, and was set for sentencing in that case May 14.

E'chelle Harris, of Chicago, Blackwell's cousin, said after the hearing that she thought she could sleep easier after someone was arrested, but she doesn't.

"This is just an evil act of crime," E'chelle Harris said. "I can't understand why this happened."

E'chelle Harris said she thought Blackwell and Fisher may have known each other through mutual friends, but she doesn't understand why he would be shot. Blackwell wasn't a violent person.

"He always helped me out," E'chelle Harris said. "I never saw him upset. He wasn't like that."

William Harris, of Chicago, also a cousin of Blackwell's, said he wants closure and feels with this arrest justice will be served.

"I raised Raph....he's not violent," William Harris said. "It's time for the community of Cedar Rapids to come together and stop the violence. It's time to come together and unite. I know Fisher's family is hurting as well."

William Harris said Blackwell's mother wanted to be in court Thursday, but she just couldn't get here. She lives in Texas. He said he planned to call her, and that she might have a statement later Thursday afternoon.

There has been four shootings in Cedar Rapids in less than a month and seven people were shot and injured. Police have now arrested a total of five people in three of those cases. Two men shot on C Street SW on March 29, have not decided to press charges.

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