Cedar Rapids Police held a news conference Tuesday afternoon, addressing the recent string of gun violence around the city.
“The message is quite simple, and I want to be blunt,” said Chief Wayne Jerman, “but this violence needs to stop.”
Jerman said there have been 28 incidents of gun violence in the city since the first of the year, more than double the number of incidents in 2013 in the same time frame. Chief Jerman reiterated that despite the increase in gun violence, Cedar Rapids as a whole is still a safe place to live.
“Not one single neighborhood is prone to this violence,” Jerman told people in attendance. “These incidents of the shots fired are occurring in all quadrants of the city.”
Like the northeast quadrant, where shots rang out early Tuesday morning, just hours before Chief Jerman made those statements.
Earl Gilmore says his brother was nearly hit with a hail of gunfire as he slept in his home on the 200 block of 18th Street Northeast.
“All I heard was 6 to 8 shots, and I jumped up to see if my brother was okay, to see if he was hit,” Gilmore said. Luckily, his brother was unharmed.
Jerman said investigators believe many of these incidents are tied together in some way, and involve a group of more than a dozen individuals who are in a dispute. The department has increased foot patrols and overtime patrols in certain areas of the city, and police administration holds weekly strategy meetings to shift resources where they’re needed. However, Jerman and Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden said unless they receive more cooperation from bystanders and witnesses to the shootings, solving them will be slow-going.
“I have a whole division of investigators that all they need is a little bit of information, and then they can take that information, build that into the probable cause necessary to identify and obtain charges on these individuals,” Jerman explained.
Vander Sanden echoed Jerman’s statements, saying they’re taking this issue seriously. “Our office intends to vigorously prosecute those who commit crimes with weapons, and to seek the toughest sentences and penalties that are possible.”
Jerman promised complete anonymity to anyone who comes forward with information that would help police identify suspects. If you have any tips for police, call Linn County Crimestoppers at 1-800-CSCRIME, or text any tips they may have to the number 274637, with the subject line “5227.”