In a spiraling of events early Sunday morning and into dawn, two suspects were arrested and charged for a shooting and other crimes in the heart of the downtown Iowa City Pedestrian Mall. Hundreds, many students, were near the area at the time of the event because it was near the time of bar close. Three persons have gunshot injuries and were taken to a nearby hospital, none of which are University of Iowa students. Iowa City police labeled the suspects and victims as part of known “groups,” and anticipate similar events in the future.
By Grace Pateras
Shooting on the Ped Mall:
Two men have been charged in the shooting that occurred in the Pedestrian Mall around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday morning
Three gunshot victims were transported to an area hospital for treatment
None of the victims (ages 22, 26, and 27) are University of Iowa students
Their conditions have not fully been released yet, though one is in critical condition, police say
The shooting was between two “groups” – one believed to be from Iowa City and the other visiting from out of town
The feud was not random, and the victims and men charged in the incident are known by local police from past incidents
Police will expect an increase of official presence downtown in the upcoming weeks in anticipation of future, similar events
Shooting on the Ped Mall:
Two Hawk Alerts in the span of an hour and 17 minutes were sent to the community early Sunday morning, both related to gun violence but not to each other.
The first alert was sent around 1:30 a.m. Iowa City police officers responded to the sound of at least three gunshots fired on the Pedestrian Mall. The area, College and Dubuque Streets, is near the Sheraton Hotel.
After police brought in “a number of individuals” for questioning in the incident, two men were charged in the shooting and suspected related crimes.
Lamar Wilson, 23
Donte Taylor, 21
Lamar Wilson, 23, 2220 Arizona St., was charged with three counts of attempted murder and three counts of intimidation with a dangerous weapon, according to an arrest affidavit.
Wilson reportedly admitted to firing several rounds at other people and told authorities that the occurrence was an ongoing feud.
Donte Taylor, 21, Cedar Rapids, was charged with dominion/control of a firearm/offensive weapon, possession or carrying of dangerous weapons, and first-offense trafficking in stolen weapons, according to the police affidavits.
“This appears to be some bad feelings between two separate groups of individuals,” Iowa City police Capt. Troy Kelsay said during a 5:30 a.m. press conference on the Ped Mall on Sunday.
When asked if Kelsay implied gang-related violence by saying “groups,” he said he didn’t feel comfortable labeling them as such.
“Might there be gang ties, it wouldn’t surprise me. But I’m not meaning to say that when I say ‘groups,’ ” he said. “… The movie version of what a gang is is not what is seen in eastern Iowa. It does not tend to be that rigid structure … I wouldn’t call them gangs; they [are people who] don’t have respect for the law.”
Responding officers found three injured victims around the College/Dubuque location, according to a press release sent at 4:20 a.m. on Sunday; they were taken to an “area hospital.” The victims are ages 22, 26, and 27.
Their names and current conditions were not released by the time of publication, and Kelsay was not able to give many details regarding the victims’ conditions during the press conference. He said two victims were in stable condition with gunshot injuries, and another was in surgery in critical condition at the time of the conference.
Kelsey said investigators obtained numerous weapons from both “groups.”
“I’m not going to say [the victims] weren’t innocent, but I’m not going to say they deserved to be shot,” he said at the press conference. “That is absolutely not the case. But they were with one of the groups that the other group was directing the violence against.”
Because of a high number of inquires from parents, police were able to say none of the victims are University of Iowa students, Kelsay said.
Hundreds of people, many of them, students, were near the area downtown at the time of the shooting.
Kelsay said extra police officers from surrounding areas, as well as UI police, were patrolling the area downtown.
In the mix of the event and details unraveling, a second Hawk Alert was sent at 2:47 a.m. that said “Robbery at gunpoint on E. Market. Two suspects last seen north on Lucas. Avoid the area.”
The robbery was a completely separate event, Kelsay said at the press conference.
The UI Public Safety defines Hawk Alerts as: “… triggered by an event that is currently occurring on or imminently threatening the UI campus. UI [Public Safety] initiates Hawk Alerts for any significant emergency or dangerous situation occurring on the campus involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students and employees.”
Kelsay said he feels locals are now safe, though warns the community to be cautious of similar events in the upcoming weeks.
“Again, I do not believe this was a random event. I don’t believe that if you or I were down here we would have been targeted somehow,” he said at the conference. “But you have shots ringing out in the Ped Mall. That is never a good thing. There were hundreds of people down here; people could have been hurt.
“I’m a police officer and enough of a realist to know that sometimes events like this trigger further events in the future, whether they be next weekend or the weekend after that. So what you will see is an increased presence by the Iowa City Police Department and the UI Police Department down here to try to prevent that.”