DAVENPORT, Iowa — (Viewer advisement: The video above may be disturbing to some to watch).
The Quad Cities are taking a new approach to fight gun violence.
It's as experts report an ongoing rise in shooting incidents in the past few years. However, there are potential solutions the Quad Cities are rolling out to curb the violence.
National statistics show violent crime cases have spiked in the past few years, and many children have died as a result.
According to the FBI, 2021 crime statistics remained at or near 2020 levels, with the estimated number of homicides only increasing by about 4%
According to the CDC, gun-related deaths rose to their highest level in 25 years during the COVID pandemic. Homicides that involved guns rose 35% during the first year of COVID-19.
Guns were the number-one killer of children in 2020, according to CDC data. The findings come after a record 45,000 people died from firearms-related injuries in 2020 in the U.S. Researchers from the University of Michigan noted that 22% of deaths were people ages one to 19 years old.
The City of Davenport doubled down on the issue after the deaths of two young children in 2021.
"We've seen levels of gun violence that we have never experienced before in our city," Davenport Police Chief Jeffrey Bladel said.
"All of that is terrible, but when a child is involved; innocent person, nothing to do with it, certainly upset and concerned," Davenport Mayor Mike Matson said.
The spate of crime has spanned both sides of the Mississippi River. Rock Island reported more homicides in the summer of 2022 than in the past two years total.
Shooting Statistics (2019 through Oct. 28, 2022)
- 2019: 29 3
- 2020: 56 12
- 2021: 49 10
- 2022: 36 2
- 2019: 2 1
- 2020: 4 0
- 2021: 5 0
- 2022: 0 0
- 2019: 20 (shots-fired calls) (Unavailable)
- 2020: 35 (shots-fired calls) (Unavailable)
- 2021: 30 (shots-fired calls) (Unavailable)
- 2022: 3 1
- Rock Island
- 2019: 40 1
- 2020: 58 7
- 2021: 41 2
- 2022: 18 10
- East Moline
- 2019: 5 0
- 2020: 4 2
- 2021: 4 1
- 2022: 4 0
The life of Davenport resident Arthur Abbey, 31, was turned upside down five years ago.
He was shot five times during a shooting near Locust and Crescent streets around 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 25, 2017.
The now-31-year-old ended up being paralyzed from the neck down following gunshots that hit his shoulder, neck, arm and spinal cord.
"Even though he's paralyzed, I feel like I'm paralyzed too," Arthur's mother Anissa Quinn said.
"The only thing I remember is that I saw some headlights and everything just went black after that," Arthur said. "I woke up in a hospital and didn't know where I was at or what had happened to me."
Quinn said Arthur passed out a handful of times as he was being transported and at hospitals before being revived.
"They told me, he wasn't going to make it," Quinn said.
Quinn said doctors also told her Arthur would be "brain dead" and never walk again if he pulled through. He has overcame both with his family's help since the shooting.
"I am a strong person, but I keep pushing forward, because my family, my mom," Arthur said. "More of my kids; my kids need me here, that's why I never gave up."
Arthur now requires 24-hour care to face his new norm. That includes an extensive daily operation to assist with breathing, talking and mobility. Quinn said it takes about a few hours every day to prepare Arthur for the day through a morning routine by herself.
"I pray every day for the justice for him, because what I'm scared about; if they can do it to him, they can do it to somebody else," Quinn said.
Quinn said Arthur was coming out of his new home and on his way to pick up his son from basketball practice when shots rang out. The case remains open with no leads, according to Quinn.
"Just for my life to change within a day, that was something really hard for me to cope with," Arthur said. "It's still hard now. It took everything away from me. My dignity, my pride. Sometimes I feel like I'm a nobody. "
Arthur said he is still nervous about being outside because he does not know who shot him. Quinn said Arthur often has anxiety attacks and he tends to not sleep at night out of fear.
Arthur and his family hold walks and rallies every year to end gun violence in the community. 2022 marked their third time hosting the events over the summer.
Going forward, Arthur's family hopes to find a better house that fits his needs, including hardwood floors to accommodate a portable chair lift. He currently does not stay in his own room, as he's monitored in the home's living room with no privacy. Quinn said Arthur could also use a walk-in shower and a new bed, as the current one is uncomfortable due to Arthur's spine damage. Quinn said a service dog would assist in supporting care for Arthur, especially overnight.
- Group Violence Intervention (GVI): Davenport rolled out GVI in early to mid-2022. It teams up the city, police, community and social services to meet with people who may have connections to gun violence. The program is one that has been used across the country for years. Representatives, including members with prior criminal history, offer resources and assistance as a way out of being locked up or dealing with a criminal record. Just under 100 people have been offered the services. More than a dozen people have accepted to follow through with the process so far, according to Davenport city officials.
- "The message is simple, we want to see people safe, we want to see people alive, and we want to see people out of prison," Davenport Chief Strategy Officer Sarah Ott said.
- "We keep on saying, 'You can't arrest your way out of it,' well, you can't," Davenport Police Department Chief Jeffrey Bladel said. "We have to have a number of different approaches to this."
- "Even if they don't accept services, if they take that message, put the gun down, tell their friends to put the gun down," Davenport GVI Coordinator DeAmbuir Carter said.
- Carter said the GVI team is now working closely with meeting young children and teenagers to try to prevent crime.
- Carter said most of the recent rise in crime has involved juveniles.
- Around $750,000 is being spent on GVI in Davenport.
- City Leaders
- "We're doing better," Davenport Mayor Matson said. "We are not satisfied and we'll continue to work."
- Matson said Quad City leaders have been part of meeting with federal officials to look into establishing a regional collaboration between the FBI and ATF.
- Area leaders have also met with the Quad Cities' federal representatives to discuss ways to bring more efforts to town.
- Matson said the Iowa State Patrol has increased its patrols on state roads in city limits. The Davenport Police Department has also created an entire analytics department to assist officers with efficient research and data.
- The mayor also added that the department bought a new system that scans shell casings to help track and identify possible weapon owners.
- Officials remind residents to make sure weapons are secure and not left in vehicles.
- The Violent Crime Task Force, made up of health, clergy and community members, was launched in Davenport following the deaths of children in 2021.
- Davenport is also one area community investing in the Coordinated/Youth Assessment Program for five years. It's run by Family Resources to give high-risk youth support.
To learn how Rock Island and Moline are tackling gun violence, check out the related stories below.
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