The mayor of Waterloo and other city officials expressed concern Tuesday about a recent increase in the number of shootings in the past couple of months where people have been hurt. Since May 1st, police have responded to 11 shootings — nearly four times the number reported during the same period last year.
Mayor Tim Hurley says the increase in violence is raising the fear of many people in Waterloo. "I just want the people of Waterloo and the Cedar Valley to understand, that the mayor, the city council, the staff outside law enforcement, the neighborhood associations and the 99.9% of the law-abiding citizens in the city of Waterloo are fed up. We’re disgusted, we’re angry, we’re concerned, we’re apprehensive yes, about what may come next," Hurley said.
Hurley made an appeal for the violence to end. Hurley says he’s upset that the acts of a few people are giving the city of Waterloo a bad image. "This isn’t cool, it isn’t brave, it isn’t brash, it isn’t brazen. Sometimes I think those words are almost encouraging in news reports," Hurley says, "this is stupid, it’s ignorant, it’s cowardly, and we ought to think of it that way."
The incidents of gun violence have occurred throughout the city, making the acts appear to be random. But, Police Chief Thomas Jennings says they’re not. In each case, Jennings says the shooters and victims knew each other. The chief’s biggest worry is that an innocent by-stander will become a victim if the shootings continue.
Jennings says that’s the only positive news, is that the acts are not random. But he says his greatest fear is a child or adult who is an innocent bystander is going to get injured. The latest shooting happened in broad-daylight Monday afternoon in the parking lot of a busy convenience store.
Motorists pumping gas at a local Kwik Star found themselves ducking from gunfire, an incident that left 33-year-old Bernard Edwards of Waterloo hospitalized in guarded condition with a wound to his stomach.
According to Jennings, police have identified a suspect in the shooting, but have made no arrests. The chief says investigators are making some progress in their efforts to solve the recent shootings. Jennings says they’ve made arrests in three of the 11 incidents, two more suspects have been identified and they are working to bring formal criminal charges against the individuals.
Jennings says efforts to identify suspects in some of the shooting incidents have been impacted by uncooperative witnesses. He’s making a public plea, asking those people to share with police what they know about the crimes.
"There are individuals in this community that have first-hand knowledge (of the crimes)..they have either declined to comment on what they know or have made the statement that they are not going to cooperate and take care of the matters, of themselves," Jennings says. Jennings says an arrest warrant has been issued for 17-year-old Darius Caston of Waterloo — the suspect being sought for the July 13th shooting spree outside a home just a few blocks from downtown.
Police identified the victims in that shooting as 17-year-old Damarrius Todd, 25-year-old Trevell McCoy, and 16-year-old Edward Degraffinreed, who remains hospitalized in guarded condition. Jennings says Caston — described as a black male, five-feet, 11-inches tall, and 185 pounds — poses a threat to the community.
"The obvious question is ‘do we think he’s armed and dangerous?’, I think the obvious answer is we suspect he’s involved in a shooting where three people were shot, so obviously he is armed," Jennings says. He says they are asking the public to take no action if they spot Caston. They are asked to call police. Jennings says police hope to make an arrest in the Monday shooting soon.