DES MOINES, Iowa - A shooting Thanksgiving night at the Git-n Go-at 816 Euclid Avenue has turned into the city's 13th homicide.
Shots rang out just before seven Thursday evening, hitting 20 year-old Des Moines resident Dabryan Smith.
Police say he died from a gunshot wound below the waist after being taken to Broadlawns Medical Center.
Police are not naming a suspect in the case. They say witnesses at the scene described the shooting as a drive-by, but also say witnesses aren’t cooperating as much as they would like.
“It makes our job more efficient, it certainly helps us move forward faster, and if you’re going to live here we’d hope people would take some stake in their community and take a little ownership of what’s going on and help us out when we need help” said Des Moines Police Sergeant Paul Parizek.
Police believe this was a targeted shooting.
“What we find with a lot of these cases is that when we start looking at the victims and the suspects and the witnesses, we see the same names over and over again. Fair to say if we could take maybe 15 to 20 people off the street, we would see a significant drop in crime” said Parizek.
Parizek says the department is frustrated with the lack of help they are getting from witnesses in several shooting cases across the city.
“It’s not about snitching; this is not an issue where you’re telling on people. This is an issue where you’re taking ownership in your community; you want to do what you can to keep it safe. There’s a lot to be said for ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, it takes a village to maintain peace and harmony” said Parizek.
Twyla Johnson lives five doors from the gas station and heard the shots ring out.
Johnson knows crime all too well. Her sister, Diane Schofield, was murdered in the summer of 1975, her body found days later in the trunk of a car near the Des Moines airport.
The case has gone cold.
She says witness cooperation means more than someone could ever know.
“People come up and say ‘I can tell you this but I can’t tell you who told me’, or ‘you can’t use my name’, and it’s worthless. You can’t take that to the police. They can’t use that” said Johnson.
“When you get out and you find yourself in the living room crying out to someone that will never answer you...it took me 41 years to see a picture of my sister, she’d been in the trunk of the car for so long. All I want is to know what happened. Why that day her life had to end?” she said.
Police say this latest shooting is their fifth open homicide, and consistently, witnesses are not coming forward with information.
“We got Perez, and we got Victor Robinson where we know we have 50 witnesses, they just look at us and shrug their shoulders. Basically what they’re telling us, is not only did they not care if we close these crimes and bring these suspects to justice, they say they don’t care about the families of these victims, and they don’t care about the cycle of violence that continues. That’s what people are telling us when they don’t help” said Parizek.
Police ask anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 515-223-1400.
You can submit a tip anonymously.
You can also submit a tip online at www.crimestoppersofcentraliowa.com.