WATERLOO - A Waterloo teenager has been sent to prison in what prosecutors describe as a pair of gang-related shootings in December.
Authorities said Ryan William Harper, 18, hopped into a sport utility vehicle with other people associated with a neighborhood group known as "The Blue" and went looking for retaliation after their friend had been shot and wounded on Riehl Street Dec. 28.
When they found a car believed to be carrying members of the rival gang, people in the sport utility vehicle began shooting, and the car sped off.
No one was injured in that second shooting.
In court Monday, Harper took responsibility for his actions and asked to be allowed to serve time at a halfway house instead of going to prison.
"I'm not a danger to the community. I'm not a violent person," said Harper., who earlier entered an Alford plea to intimidation with a weapon and going armed with intent.
But Judge George Stigler responded telling Harper that shooting at people who offended him made him a dangerous person.
"The rounds you fired, the rounds your compatriots fired, go somewhere," Stigler said. He said Harper and the others were lucky no one was shot in the incident.
Defense Attorney Michael Bandy also asked for leniency saying Harper's plea caused another defendant to plead guilty and noted Harper had agreed to be interviewed by law enforcement about gang matters in the area.
Stigler rejected the halfway house suggestion and imposed a 10-year sentence for the intimidation charge. He added a consecutive five-year sentence for going armed but suspended that portion.
In essence, Harper will spend up to 10 years in prison. When he gets out, he will have and additional five years hanging over his head as well as the remainder of his 10-year sentence if he is paroled early.
Authorities said the chain of events started with a fight involving a snow shovel outside a blue house on Riehl Street.
"This is clearly nothing more than retaliation," said Assistant Black Hawk County Attorney Joel Dalrymple said.
After the clash ended, the rival group left and the weapons of choice quickly escalated.
That's when Teondis Lemar Morehead drove back to Riehl Street with Curtis Junior Williams and Demarcus Darnell Sanders in his vehicle, Dalrymple said. He said Sanders and Williams opened fire - Williams hung out a window and fired over the roof of the vehicle - striking Rolandus Alexander, 18, in the leg.
Harper, who was one of the intended targets, got a in sport utility vehicle with Darnell Garrette Demery and others and began looking for revenge, Dalrymple said.
It didn't take long before they spotted a car on Mosley Street, and Demery walked up to it with a gun.
But Demery couldn't figure out how to disengage the safety on his 9 mm handgun and wasn't able to get a shot off, Dalrymple said.
Harper leaned out of the sport utility vehicle and started shooting, he said. The car drove off, and the people inside were less than cooperative during the investigation, Dalrymple said.
Bandy said his client was part of the initial fight on Riehl Street and said it was never proven Harper fired a gun. He denied Harper was a gang member, although he acknowledged Harper had debriefed law enforcement about gangs.
The cases against Sanders and Williams are pending.
Morehead pleaded and was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. Demery, who also pleaded, was sentenced to up to 20 years, Dalrymple said.
Contact Jeff Reinitz at (319) 291-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.