Community of Burlington expresses frustration over violent crime, city leaders react

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BURLINGTON, Iowa (KWQC) - The community of Burlington is demanding answers after a series of crimes over the last few weeks. The latest: a Burlington man shot and killed by police after a shootout in the early morning hours Wednesday.

Burlington Police are at an 'active crime scene' (Photo: Viewer Submission)

“Oh my heart was just racing,” neighbor Linda Scott said. “When you hear gunshots that close to your house, the first thing you think of is your family. Is everyone okay? Did anyone get hurt?”

Scott’s granddaughter’s room was hit by at least two bullets.

“It was just really scary,” she said. “Nerve-wracking. I didn't even go back to sleep.”

Officials with the Burlington Police Department say they, along with the Des Moines County Sheriff’s Office responded to shots fired call in the 300 block of North Gunnison Street just before 1 a.m. on Wednesday. Witnesses described a white S-10 Chevrolet pickup truck as possibly being involved in the shooting according to police. Around that time police say Burlington officers located the vehicle near Central and Division Streets and tried to stop the vehicle near Angular and Summer Streets. Police say initial reports indicate the driver left the truck and displayed a gun at officers and then ran from the area. Police went after the suspect where "multiple rounds were fired by the suspect and law enforcement", according to police.

“I hear the scanner all the time at other neighborhoods but not this close,” Scott said. “It was pretty scary hearing that. We don't normally have that much going on around here. It's normally pretty quiet.”

Scott is just one of several people expressing frustration over crimes in the city of Burlington. The frustration has been building over the last few weeks as the community has continued to see a number of violent crimes. Since mid-June, there have been 10 shootings, including Wednesday’s officer-involved shooting. At least three of those shootings have occurred in just the past three weeks. Community members have taken their concerns to Facebook saying city leaders need to start reacting and doing so faster. TV6 Investigates took those concerns to city leaders to see what they had to say.

“As a council, we are concerned, we'd be fools not to be,” Burlington Mayor Shane McCampbell wrote in a message to TV6. “We like many cities in America are seeing too many incidents of violence. We are fully supportive of our police department. The police department has been proactive and made arrests in the cases quickly and efficiently.”

One of the arrests referenced by the mayor includes the shooting death of Reynaldo Villarreal. Police say Diavontae Stepphon Davis shot and killed him in the early morning hours Sunday after an argument at a family gathering in the 800 block of Columbia.

TV6 reached out to the police department for comment on the rash of violent crime. The chief told TV6 they could not talk and may do so once they are further along in their investigations. All members of the city council were also asked for comment. Two of them said they are doing the best they can and no matter what they do, they’ll need the support of the community. TV6 also asked the city administrator for a written statement. He would not provide one saying it would need to go through the legal department so there would be one cohesive message, but he did say that he supports the police department and echos what the mayor has said.

Police have not released the name of the victim who was shot and killed or the officers involved. They are both on paid administrative leave. Officials say the suspect was wounded in the shooting and died at the hospital. The suspect's name is not being released at this time.

The officers and deputy were not injured in the incident.

Mayor Shane McCampbell’s Statement on violent crime:
”Yes as a council we are concerned, we'd be fools not to be, that being said. We like many cities in America are seeing too many incidents of violence. We are fully supportive of our police department. The police department has been proactive and made arrests in the cases quickly and efficiently. As a council, our job is to fully support the police chief and his department as they work toward solutions. We have been briefed on these events but obviously not privy to any information that may compromise the investigations. We need our citizens to be proactive and report anything that looks amiss to our police department, if you see or hear something, report it and to fully cooperate with our police department investigations. By working together we can hopefully work toward eliminating the shootings in our city.”

Statement from Burlington City Council member Matthew B. Rinker:
As a councilman in Burlington the recent events are an obvious concern for me. Anytime a violent crime takes place in a person's community there are a number of personal emotions and community issues that must be addressed when considering these events. With regard to Wednesday night events, we had officers put into an impossible situation were they risked their lives to protect the community and we have a local family that is now grieving the loss of a loved one.

As community leaders it our responsibility to support our local law enforcement as well as provide the opportunity for our community to grow out of these conflicts. No one event is the same, so assuming that passing one law or changing one policy is going to fix everything would be short sighted. Society as a whole has changed and communities with the same demographics as ours are experiencing many of the same trends in their violent crime rates.

​I'm a firm believer in that the only way to effectively combat many of the social economic and crime related issues is to make sure people have opportunities to live and strive for. We are no longer a "pull up your boot straps" kind society, and that makes solving these issue even more difficult combat. These are complex problems that have developed or many years, and they will have complex solutions that will take equally as long to be effective. Burlington is a resilient community and many of its citizens work everyday to make it a better place to live.