The Quad-Cities lost a committed family man and supportive friend in a fatal shooting early Saturday on the western edge of downtown Davenport.
Davenport Police responded to a disturbance/shots-fired call about 2:06 a.m. near 800 W. 4th Street, where they found Jason Blair Roberts, 46, suffering from life-threatening injuries after being shot, the department later reported on its Facebook page. Police confirmed it was not a drive-by shooting.
Officers provided first-aid services to the gunshot victim until medical personnel arrived on the scene, which is close to Lafayette Park, two blocks north of the foot of the Talbot Memorial (Centennial) Bridge.
Medic EMS transported Roberts to Genesis Medical Center-East Rusholme Street; he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital. Detectives are following up on the incident, but there was no additional information available late Saturday. This marks the fifth shooting death this year in Davenport.
After police identified Roberts as the victim, his family released the following statement:
"We are shocked and deeply saddened by the senseless murder of our sweet Jason Blair. Jason was a loving son, brother, husband, uncle and friend. Most importantly he was a father to four beautiful young ladies who will miss him dearly. We ask that the media respect our privacy at this time. Our family and friends need this time to both grieve and celebrate his life. Please remember that Jason was a caring and peaceful man. He would expect us to be compassionate toward one another at this time, despite our pain."
Added Kashe Robinson, one of Roberts’ two stepdaughters: “He really was the best.”
Roberts earned an associate's degree in liberal arts from Black Hawk College in Moline and a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of New Mexico, according to his LinkedIn profile. He had worked at Progressive Insurance since 2000.
Roberts' father, Simon "Si" Roberts, became the first African-American to win an NCAA wrestling title for the University of Iowa in 1957. The former civic leader in the Quad-Cities and promoter of civil rights also was the first African-American to win an Iowa high school wrestling championship for the former Davenport High School in 1954.
Many in Roberts' circle struggled with the tragic news of his death.
"It’s just a shock because he wasn’t involved in the street life or a gang," said Dwayne Hodges, a longtime friend who played sports and attended Central High School with Roberts in the late 1980s. "I don't know one person who would have a bad word to say about him; he was a devoted community person."
Hodges last saw Roberts over Memorial Day weekend at the River House Bar & Grill in Moline. The musician was performing there with his band, 10 of Soul, and Roberts was his usual encouraging, genuine self, Hodges said.
"It's sad that somebody in the community would take this man away from his family and everyone that loved him," he continued. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact he's no longer here."
Other family members and friends openly mourned the loss of Roberts on social media.
The Rev. Daniel Teague, who leads a grassroots organization called Boots on the Ground to spur positive social change in the community, referred the Quad-City Times to his Facebook page. He called his now-deceased cousin a "good man."
“This is not OK, Quad-Cities,” Teague wrote. “This man wouldn’t hurt nobody.”
Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to call the Davenport Police Department at 563-326-6125 or submit an anonymous tip via the mobile app “CityConnect Davenport, IA” or “CrimeReports by Motorola.”