Mother Calls Recent Court Avenue Violence ‘Senseless,’ Asks for More Police Presence

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Recent violence has brought safety concerns to light near downtown's Court Avenue business district.

In the past, off-duty officers have provided an extra safety net while patrolling late at night. That concern is amplified now that the well of those officers has gone dry.

The lack of an extra presence worries a local mother, who asked to remain anonymous.

“We can't ignore it. Kids need to be aware,” she said.

Her son along and his friend were brutally beaten in the popular bar district in February.

“His physical wounds have healed, but mentally, I think it's something that will be with him the rest of his life,” she said.

Just days after Thanksgiving, 21-year-old Edmanuel Perez was shot and killed on Third Avenue and another man was sent to the hospital with gunshot wounds.

“It’s just a shame and shouldn't have to happen to anyone else. It’s just senseless,” the mother said.

The string of violence has caused several businesses along Court Avenue to pitch in and hire two off-duty officers for weekend nights.

“We are hoping that as we go through this and into next season, we will be back up and staffed full-force,” said Des Moines Sgt. Paul Parizek.

Police say the city and county want to be proactive.

“We've got some discussions with public and private partnerships we've had in place for quite some time, and we are going to continue those and see if we can identify some funding and different strategies to make things a little safer down there,” Parizek said.

Poorly lit areas in the Court Avenue district is concerning to some, including the mother who spoke with Channel 13.

“They shouldn't have to worry about how safe it is to walk to their car. There should be security cameras, well-lit parking lots, police presence,” she said. “I just don't want to see another family have to sit in the emergency room and have to go through what we went through.”

Parizek said he hopes to have a plan in place for more officers by New Year’s Eve.

The Polk County Board of Supervisors said there was a meeting Monday afternoon to discuss Court Avenue security, but they did not elaborate on the details of the meeting.

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