15-year-old killed at Hawthorne Hills apartments didn’t live at complex

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 11:57 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - “We just got up for the day and sat down to watch the news when we saw the fire trucks drive by,” Tabitha Thomson, of Cedar Rapids, said.

Thomson lived across the street from Hawthorne Hills Apartments and said she didn’t know what to think of all of the first responders until she learned a shooting happened.

Police said a 15-year old was found dead after the police responded to a call for a car that had crashed behind the complex. Police said the young girl had at least one gunshot wound.

An employee of the complex was the one who called the shooting into police. They said she didn’t live at the complex. Police said an autopsy would determine if the 15-year old was killed because of the crash or a gunshot.

“This area, for the most part, was a quiet area,” Thomson said. “It was a little unnerving to find out a shooting had happened.”

“Any kind of violence, gun violence, isn’t acceptable,” John Tursi, the executive director of Boys and Girls Club of Eastern Iowa, said.

Part of Tursi’s job was to provide a safe place for children when school wasn’t in session. The program was designed to help kids ages 6 to 18, but he said their focus was on elementary and middle school-age students. However, he said the death of this 15-year old, in what police called a targeted shooting, was unacceptable.

“We have to continue to provide kids of all ages a safe place to go outside of dangerous areas,” Tursi said.

Tursi served on the SET Task Force, which was established in 2015 after a 14-year-old shot another teenager. While he said the programs the SET Fund helped, he said this was a community issue everyone needs to address.

“In general, as a community, we try to do our best,” Tursi said. “If people think this was going to go away right away, they were dead wrong.”

It was that engagement that Thomson agreed needed to happen among neighbors after a tragedy like this.

“Something like this doesn’t happen every day,” Thomson said. “We need to be there to keep an eye out for our neighbors.”

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