WATERLOO — One person has died following an early Saturday shooting at an unauthorized downtown club that also injured at least 11 other people.
Waterloo Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald talked about the shooting during an 11 a.m. press conference at City Hall, where he announced the death.
He said the gathering at 501 W. Fourth St. allegedly involved “urban motorcycle clubs” who were using the building as a night club, a purpose for which it is not authorized by the city.
The incident happened at 3:17 a.m. Police, already in the area for a traffic stop, responded “in less than a minute” to the address, Fitzgerald said. “Our officers actually heard gunshots.”
Among the injured, eight had gunshot wounds.
“Unfortunately, as of the time of this press conference, one person has succumbed to their injuries,” said Fitzgerald. No other details about the victim were released as police work to inform relatives.
“Pray for the victims, pray for the family members,” he added. “But also pray that folks step up and speak out and give us the information we need to solve this crime.”
“I never thought that I would mutter the words that I can’t believe this would happen here,” said Mayor Quentin Hart, speaking at the press conference. “But it has, and gun play is for keeps and people get hurt. We as a community have to be diligent in supporting our families, but also be diligent in bringing justice to perpetrators of this heinous and cowardice crime.”
The shooting occurred at the end of about a 24-hour period that included two other gunshot incidents Friday morning, which police said they do not believe were connected to Saturday’s events.
A man shot in the ankle was found outside a liquor store in the area of West Fourth Street and Kimball Avenue shortly after 2 a.m. At 7:30 a.m., a bullet struck the roof of a car occupied by a woman and two children as she drove through an alley behind the 800 block of Riehl Street.
On Saturday, police arrived at the West Fourth Street location to find a chaotic scene with people hurt and others fleeing the area, and officers began administering aid as paramedics and firefighters pulled up.
“There was a huge crowd in the property, estimated at about 100,” said Fitzgerald, ranging in age from their 20s to “upwards of 40-, 45-years-old.”
Officers needed to determine who was injured.
“Inside of the location there was some kind of confrontation. We do know that gunfire was exchanged inside,” Fitzgerald said. It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were shooting, though.
“We also know that one of the exits had to be destroyed in order for people to get out,” he added. Police believe there are more people who were injured but left the scene and haven’t sought medical care.
Fitzgerald said the public isn’t in danger from the shooter or shooters. “We believe it’s isolated” to this incident, he said.
One person was flown to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City for further treatment, police said. It was unclear if that is the person who died. Other victims were taken to area hospitals and are receiving treatment for a variety of injuries.
Fitzgerald said one of the victims “is still in critical condition.”
Aside from the gunshot wounds, injuries occurred from debris, glass, and people fleeing the scene.
“It was a pretty dynamic scene,” said Battalion Chief Ben Petersen with Waterloo Fire Rescue. “Coming into something like that, you are trying to size up the patients and triage the scene.”
Medics found two gunshot victims inside the club and a third outside and took them to local hospitals. Other less-severely injured victims went by private vehicles and soon inundated the emergency rooms, officials said.
While police haven’t announced any arrests from the shooting, three people were taken into custody after officers responded to a disorderly conduct call outside the emergency room at MercyOne Waterloo Medical Center, where some of the victims were taken.
Sgt. Brooke Carter said a fight started between some of the people who came to the hospital after the victims were transported there, but no major injuries occurred.
Dumarkcus Dewayne Gibbs, 27, and Sincere Lanae Jones, 20, were arrested for disorderly conduct and assault on a peace officer.
Law enforcement officers from about every agency in the county – Cedar Falls, Evansdale, Hudson, LaPorte and Gilbertville police as well as the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office – headed to the shooting scene to assist Waterloo police.
“Everybody jumped in,” Capt. Joe Leibold said. “Whatever we needed, we just all did together, which is typical of how we work.”
The shooting location had been a bar that closed several years ago and has been operating as a private establishment.
Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest or arrests in the shooting. Officials urged people to come forward with information about the incident.
“Violence is no way to deal with problems and silence is no way to bring justice for those who may have been hurt,” said Hart.
“What we know is that several hundred potential witnesses are out there,” Fitzgerald noted. They may be able to “provide information as to what exactly transpired inside the location, how the gunfire erupted. ... I encourage you, I beseech you, call us.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Waterloo Police Department at (319) 291-4340 or Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers at (855) 300-TIPS (8477). Tips may also be left at WWW.CVCRIMESTOP.COM Tips may also be sent with TipSubmit or by texting the word CEDAR plus the information to CRIMES (274637).
This is the fourth fatal shooting of the year in Waterloo.
On May 15, Terrell Bernard Flower, 30, was shot at 323 Crescent Place. He was taken to the hospital by private vehicle where he was pronounced dead.
Cortez Harrison, 15, was shot in an alley behind the 2800 block of East Fourth Street on July 20 and later died at the hospital.
Vincent J. Hemenway, 49, was shot outside 556 Adrian St. He later died at the hospital.
PHOTOS: Private Club Shooting, Sept. 26, 2020