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102019-Gun-Unit-001

Shell casing found in the alley behind 1530 Esplanade in Davenport where an exchange of gunfire took place in May 2018.

In some ways the afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 27 wasn't very different from other Sunday afternoons on the 1300 block of West 12th Street.

Some people were settled in for the west-coast football games. Others hung out with friends. A family prepared for a sit-down dinner.

Except this Sunday was different. All of them — and many other residents of the portion of the street that intersects with North Marquette Street — heard gunfire around 4 p.m.

In the days after the incident — and the arrest of three teenagers believed to be connected — people on the block talked about the shots. And they talked about gunfire from a week earlier, and incident that led to the arrest of pair of 17-year-olds.

Many residents asked the same questions as other Davenport residents: Why can't we stop kids from getting guns?

Scott County Attorney Mike Walton said prosecutors can do little — and the answer to the question of kids getting guns lies with the community.

"Other than putting people in prison, prosecutors have little ability to reduce the flow of weapons into the community. We become involved after the shooting or the robbery," Walton said. "The damage is already done. Even though many defendants go to prison for firearms-related crimes, this doesn’t reduce the number of firearms available on the street."

Walton acknowledged his office sees many young defendants in cases involving guns.

" ... Many (are) even under the age of 18. The current trend is not to incarcerate more young men, but fewer," Walton explained. "Therefore we see many of these offenders get probation and are back out on the street. Unfortunately, many are involved in weapons crimes again."

In neighborhoods where shots have been fired, many residents said they feel "intimidated" and are afraid to talk with anyone other than family and friends.

Walton said the county prosecutor's office sees many of the same dynamics play out as investigations unfold.

"One common problem is gun crimes often involve young men. The victims are also often young men," Walton said. "It is not unusual for a defendant in one shooting case to be a victim in another shooting case.

"We experience a serious lack of cooperation in many of these cases, which results in a lack of evidence to go forward."

Walton echoed Davenport Police Chief Paul Sikorski, who has repeatedly said greater community involvement and communication is only way to reduce gun crimes Davenport.

"The only way this can be addressed is for the community to be vocal about rejecting the illegal gun culture, rejecting those who use guns, and encouraging cooperation where guns have been used in crime," Walton said.

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