WATERLOO | It started with a shotgun blast.
Shot ripped through 27-year-old Gary Lee Wilson's arm and lodged in his abdomen as he stood outside 241 Jackson St. on Aug. 2.
Within two hours, Wilson was declared dead at Allen Hospital, and with that he became the first homicide victim in Waterloo in 2014.
Wilson wasn't the last person to lose his life at the hands of another in the city last year.
Crime numbers released by the Waterloo Police Department show 2014 had the highest number of slayings in 20 years with six people the victim of homicide.
Looking back, Waterloo usually logs two or three homicides a year. In 2012, there were five, with four in 2013. 1993 holds the recent record with nine homicides, five of which remain unsolved.
Daniel Trelka, Waterloo's director of safety services, said the six slayings in 2014 are unusual for the city.
"It's an anomaly. When you look at each of these, you're not seeing any trends there," Trelka said.
Most homicides involve acquaintances, which makes it difficult for police to intervene beforehand, said Greg Fangman, lieutenant of investigations for the Waterloo Police Department.
"The vast majority of times, they know each other," Fangman said. "If someone gets their mind set to do it, they are going to do it."
Three of the last year's slayings were between people who knew each other. Two appear to have been between people who didn't know each other or had recently met, and the relationship is unclear in one.
Investigators have made arrests in all but one of the cases. On Christmas Eve, someone shot 52-year-old Randall Scott Dawson at his home at 302 E. 10th St. He died of gunshot wounds to the head and neck.
Dawson's death was the last homicide of the year, and it remains unsolved.
Fangman said the investigation hasn't hit a dead end, but he admitted an arrest isn't imminent anytime soon.
Although none of the homicides were related, Trelka noted that all but one were carried out with firearms. One was with a knife.
"What concerns me is the gun violence," Trelka said. He noted said the city also had a rise in nonfatal shootings.
He said the police department is taking what proactive measures they can to curb gun violence by holding people accountable for gun-related crimes and prosecuting people handling firearms despite having felony records.
Homicides in 2014 included:
- Aug. 2: Gary Lee Wilson, 27, a Chicago resident who recently moved to Waterloo, was shot and killed in the 200 block of Jackson Street following an argument outside the home of Roderick Earl Ward Jr. Ward was arrested for murder.
- Aug. 23: Celio Antonio Posada, 35, of Minneapolis, was visiting Waterloo when he met Rodolfo Gonzalez Pena at El Senor Tequila. Minutes after leaving the bar, Posada was shot and killed in the parking lot. Police found Gonzalez a short distance away with a gun in his vehicle, and he was arrested for murder.
- Sept. 2: Police began looking into the disappearance of Ronald Dean Randall, 44, of Waterloo, and the investigation led them to Randall's body in a wooded area near Washburn. Police allege Anthony Albert Tronca shot and killed Randall at Tronca's AJT Auto Repair shop on Black Hawk Street. Tronca was arrested for murder.
- Nov. 24: Shawonyta "Marq" Norman Sr., 38, of Evansdale, was allegedly stabbed by his sister's boyfriend at a West Third Street home after he argued with the boyfriend over claims the sister had been assaulted, police said. The boyfriend, Martez Deroy Smith, was arrested for murder.
- Dec. 6: An argument that initially started between women on Broadway Street escalated, and Orintheo Campbell Jr., 23, of Waterloo, was shot and killed. Police arrested James Robert Ernst II of Cedar Rapids for murder.
- Dec. 24: Randall Scott Dawson, 52, was shot and killed at his East 10th Street home. No arrests have been made.
Investigators are also investigating two suspicious deaths:
- Dennis Washburn, 69, of Waterloo, was found unconscious on Edwards Street on May 27, 2014. He later died of blunt injuries, but investigators were unable to determine if he had been assaulted or if he fell.
- On Oct. 19, police responded to a report of a gunshot at an Elm Street home and found 17-year Jazzmine Rembert with a gunshot wound to the head. Resident Quaderious Spates was arrested for trafficking stolen weapons after officers determined the pistol involved in Rembert's death had been taken during a burglary. Spates gave an account to police that Rembert was holding the handgun when it went off.
Homicides weren't the only crimes that showed increases last year. The total number of reported index crimes -- murder, robbery, rape, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft -- rose from 2,456 in 2013 to 2,729 in 2014, according to the police department's statistics.
Rape went from 42 to 56, and robbery climbed from 46 to 66. Larceny increased from 1,019 to 1,285, and auto theft increased from 99 to 127.
Aggravated assault and burglary were down, according to the police department numbers. There were 773 reported burglaries in 2013 and 746 in 2014, and aggravated assault went from 473 to 443.