DSM Police Investigating Five Homicide Cases, Community Members Say Lack of Witness Communication is Not New

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Police are still working to close five unsolved homicide cases this year.

Des Moines Police say there were multiple witnesses in all five open cases, but they are all refusing to talk with investigators.

Community leaders at Creative Visions in Des Moines say witnesses not talking to police is not anything new.

"I believe that it’s very frustrating for the law enforcement that goes around the city of Des Moines to protect and serve us," said Pastor Ron Woods.

Now, leaders say it is time for the community to combine forces with police to give witnesses a safe space to talk.

"It's time that community leaders take to the street and talk to young people and be there," said Ako Abdul-Samad, CEO of Creative Visions.

Witnesses could help bring criminals to justice in cases like the shooting of Choice Elliston earlier this week. Police say two people witnessed the shooting, but do not want to talk to officers.

Some say they're silent out of fear.

“Many people are scared, and it's not so much fear in the police or fear in their inability to protect, but they're fearing the backlash that happens in their community,” said Pastor Woods.

Des Moines police disagree.

“If you're truly afraid of somebody coming back to retaliate, then what better way to take that concern off your plate then to lock them up in jail," said Sergeant Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department.

Police say criminals are known in connection to some of the five open cases, but there is not enough evidence to press charges. Witnesses coming forward to provide further information in these cases could help officials file charges and close the investigations.