While the Omaha/Council Bluffs area hosted thousands of bicycling enthusiasts over the weekend, police were kept very busy by several violent incidents. Omaha police say between Friday afternoon and Sunday night, an even dozen people were wounded in shootings. Omaha Police Officer Jacob Bettin says 12 shootings is excessive in one weekend and it does not appear they’re related.
"The investigators don’t believe that a handful of these crimes are connected," Bettin says. "It’s just the middle of the summer now and the weather has been really nice." He says they’re busy interviewing witnesses and persons of interest.
"Until we actually talk to all persons involved and figure out what the motives behind the shootings are, that’s when we can classify those as being related, but right now, it’s just too early," Bettin says.
None of the people who were shot died and it appears none of them were riders on RAGBRAI, this week’s bicycle ride across Iowa, which started Sunday morning in Council Bluffs. An economic impact of five-million dollars was expected for Council Bluffs for hosting the ride’s kickoff.
Back in Omaha, Officer Bettin says officers are increasing their presence in potentially violent neighborhoods. "We’ll basically saturate the area through uniform patrol officers and unmarked vehicles," he says. "There’s obviously some other things we’re taking into account also."
Bettin says they are using technology to help the determine where to focus their patrols. "We use data that’s gathered through the crime analysis unit to create these hot spot areas and that’s how we determine where to increase our patrols or where we think the likeliness of more violence will occur," he says.
Five people were hit in a single drive-by shooting incident in Omaha on Saturday morning. A 13-year-old boy was among the victims. Seven other people were shot in five other incidents.