DES MOINES, Iowa -- Just blocks from Des Moines' Martin Luther King Park lies a normally quiet neighborhood on Hutton Street. "About as quiet as it is right now. There's never anything out here. You don't even hear kids playing," said Rodney Nelson, a neighborhood resident.
Neighbors awoke to sirens blaring Wednesday morning shortly before five. "I said to myself it must have been a murder because the block was filled with police cars," said someone who wished to keep her name anonymous.
Officers say three suspects wearing ski masks, armed with two handguns and an AR-15 style rifle, broke into the back of the home at 1348 Hutton while Parker Strickland and his girlfriend Virginia Murphy were painting at the kitchen table. "It sounds like he was grappling for a gun to get it away from the suspects at the time this happened," said Des Moines Police Sergeant Paul Parizek.
Strickland was shot three times. The suspects took $200 dollars from the couple and fled after stealing Murphy's car. Police say the two were not the intended targets said Parizek, "Apparently, the prior tenants of this house had been involved in narcotics activity. They since have moved out and these folks were unaware of what happened before."
Neighbors say the block used to have a bad reputation but was turning the corner with committed homeowners. "I've been here on and off for the last eight years and it has gotten quiet."
Hopefully it was just an abnormality for a community still in disbelief after thinking they'd taken their neighborhood back. Nelson said, "All day my mind's been racing. Who, how, why, what?"
Police still have not arrested any suspects. Strickland is receiving treatment at Mercy in Des Moines and is listed as being in fair condition.