“It Feels Like We’re Going Backwards,” Says Community Leader After 9th Homicide

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Police say 24-year-old Trey Lee was shot in the upper torso around 4 p.m. Friday afternoon. He was taken to the hospital where he later died.

Patrick Young, 24, was also shot, but police expect the man to be okay.

Community leaders are sick of the violence, especially this shooting that happened within yards of a park full of children.

“It’s like we’re going backwards. When Creative Visions opened its doors, it opened its doors because of shootings by Evelyn K. Davis park. We were able to stop that. We were able to work with a lot of organizations that made that park safe and we’re going to have to do it again,” said lawmaker and community leader Ako Abdul-Samad.

Abdul-Samad represents the north side of the city, which has been plagued with violence. The executive director of the non-profit Creative Visions, Abdul-Samad says when his program first opened its doors there was ample funding for the outreach program.

“Now there’s not funding, and to be very honest with you I’m tired of people saying, ‘well money doesn’t solve the problem,’ no, money adds to getting programming that addresses the programming, and if it worked before it can work again,” he said.

Abdul-Samad says although money helps, it is far from the only thing that needs to be addressed.

“We have to do some time investment, that means we have to get out and not just march to take back our neighborhood, we have to be in our neighborhood, we have to have events in our neighborhood to let people know we’re not going to do this. We’re not going to put up with this shooting.”

Abdul-Samad says as part of a comprehensive solution to the violence, there also needs to be capital investment in the city’s north side.

“Downtown is looking so well, East Village is awesome, Johnston, Ankeny are growing in leaps and bounds, West Des Moines, everyone talks about West Des Moines, wow, Waukee is doing wonders. When have you heard that kind of conversation about this area? ‘Wow! We have a manufacturer that decided to move in that area on Second Avenue. Wow! We have jobs that are going to happen here. Wow! Somebody got a tax break to come and put something in here. Wow! There’s something for all the babies to do.’ You don’t hear that here. You don’t hear that at all,” said Abdul-Samad.

He says the community has too much to lose if they don’t curb shootings like the one on Friday.

“She could have been coming in the door,” Abdul-Samad said, referencing his toddler goddaughter in the room, “That could have jeopardized her life. So we’re not just talking about the individuals who got shot, we’re talking about a community that shouldn’t have to live in fear.”

Abdul-Samad says some questions are harder to answer than others.

“How do you address a kid that has reached a point at 13,14, 15 years old that’s not scared to die? What’s going on there? That’s what we have to have those conversations about. If we don’t, we lose.

This marks the city’s ninth homicide.