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Uncle calls for action in Cedar Rapids regarding gun violence after 18-year-old niece is killed

Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 7:15 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Marisa Doolin was 18-years-old when she was shot just three days before Christmas. She died from her injuries four days later.

Jeremy Hepker, Doolin’s uncle, said the violence needs to stop, particularly involving younger people. In total, the city saw 12 homicides in 2020, the most on record. Of the people killed, 9 never saw their 30th birthday and 4 of those 9 didn’t make it to 20.

“Let me tell you something, this street code that these guys talk about, this code. I’ve got friends that are doing 12 years, 15 years, my cousin just did 20 years, you know what I’m saying, because of this code,” Hepker said.

Hepker said she was a beautiful girl who was full of life. After she was shot, the pandemic kept many family members from being able to visit her in the hospital.

”You’re an 18-year-old beautiful girl, you’re looking for your family and we couldn’t be there for her the way that I wanted to and it hurt my family so much,” Hepker said.

He was by her side on Christmas day.

”Nobody could really go to her and I sat up there and I held her hand all day and I just wish that she, I wish she would have just not had to go through this,” Hepker said.

Brandon Jackson, the founder of Dreeam Sports, which focuses on providing youth in Cedar Rapids with sports activities and mentorship, said it’s time for the community to come together.

“I’ve seen the city come together when the derecho happened which is a beautiful thing but it’s like why can’t we put as much effort, the same energy towards building something towards saving these youth and the gun violence that’s going on in this city,” Jackson said.

Hepker plans to use his niece’s name to form a Foundation that can help. He said it’s about taking a horrible situation and using it for good, hopefully deterring people from violence.

”What happened to my niece and what happened to this other young man, I’ve had it, like I’ve just had it. What code is it to protect somebody for what they did to somebody’s daughter, somebody’s son? What’s this code,” Hepker said.

The other young man he is referring to was 21-year-old Jayson Jones. His shooting death over the weekend was the first homicide of 2021. Circumstances surrounding his death are still being investigated by police.

An arrest has not been made in either case.

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