TV6 Investigates: Over 60% of Quad City homicides since 2018 caused by guns
DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - In the final part to an end of the year three-part series, TV6 Investigates sent open records requests to local police departments for yearly homicide rates.
The rates showed that while homicide rates are down for 2021, they are still double what they were in 2018 and 2019.
“You might as well say it’s like a little Chicago now,” Brandy Coleman said about gun violence in Davenport.
Coleman is the mother of Jamon Winfrey, a 14 year old Davenport boy who was shot and killed in February.
“Most of the days, it’s hard, very hard,” she said. “I mean, he was my baby boy.”
2020 was the worst year for homicides the Quad City has seen on record for decades.
2021 isn’t far behind.
Winfrey was the first of 19 Quad City homicide victims in 2021. His grief stricken cousin Ramon Harper could hardly talk about his death.
“It’s been rough,” said Harper, “I can’t sleep, I can’t eat. I just cry. When I think about him it’s not easy.”
13 of the 19 homicides, including Winfrey’s were caused by gun violence.
The Quad Cities has experienced 62 homicides since 2018. 40 out of those 62 homicides, or over 60 percent, were caused by guns.
According to the research organization “Gun Violence Archive,” gun-related homicides were up 9% nationally from 2021 by September 2021.
The Quad Cities area saw three less gun-related homicides in 2021 than in 2020, but both years combined saw 25 homicides, which is more than double the number of homicides from the previous two years, numbering 11.
“It’s time for us as a community to come together and be active participants in rising crime,” Davenport’s Mayor Mike Matson said earlier in 2021 during a press conference held by the Davenport Police Department, in collaboration with the NAACP to address an incident involving shots fired in the downtown area.
During the conference, Melvin Grimes, NAACP Community Relations Specialist for the Quad Cities, said‚”I don’t want to have to do anymore funerals. I’m tired of writing condolences to parents who have lost children, young people who are part of this violence [and] victims of violence.”
Davenport Police Chief Paul Sikorski added, “Is it acceptable for our kids; our young men and women to be involved in this and not care about each other?”
Young people were the major topic of discussion during the conference.
Five of the 13 homicide victims were under the age of 20, including Devell Johnson, Junior. Johnson was just 12 years old, riding a bicycle in an alley way with his friends, when he was shot dead by an unknown suspect.
“I have to wake up everyday and be scared to go outside,” his neighbor, Jasmine Devlin, said of the incident earlier this year.
In 2020, TV6 Investigates put together a story relating some of the gun violence to small, unorganized neighborhood gangs like the Davenport “Lowriders” starting terf wars with each other.
“These are individual factions, whether it’s 10 people who live in a particular area or seven individuals on a block,” said Former Chief Jeff VenHuizen of the Rock Island Police Department at the time.
Domestic disputed also seemed to be a large factor.
Cassandra Bibs, mother to 20-year-old Wilanna Bibbs who was visiting Davenport when Bibbs says her boyfriend Justin Wright shot her to death, said “that relationship they had was toxic.”
“That was my sweetheart,” Bibbs said. “That was my sweet baby.”
On Dec. 22, three nights before Christmas, 26-year-old Dayona Lee of Rock Island was allegedly shot and killed by her then-boyfriend Shawn Boyd, according to family members on her GoFundMe page.
VenHuizen said in 2020 that gun violence must be addressed by the community, not just the police.
“You can’t be apathetic to gun crime in your community,” VenHuizen said. “You can’t ignore it and hope it’s going to go away because if you don’t take a stand it’s just going to get worse.”
VenHuizen’s words echoed the current situation. Data backs up that gun violence is not backing down in the area, no matter the arrests that are made.
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