Suspect in Altoona Murder-Suicide had History of Violence

ALTOONA, Iowa -- Police say 29-year-old Chekesha Clark and 30-year-old Kalen Burgess had been arguing all day. The two had been in a domestic relationship and had a young child together. Altoona police say they met Friday night around 11 p.m. to talk at the Applebee’s in Altoona. Police are unsure of the nature of the argument but said it caused Burgess to pull a gun and shoot Clark in front of a restaurant full of witnesses.

“Something happened that caused this incident to happen, and for somebody to lose their life furiously…it was unnecessary,” said Altoona Police Sgt. Alyssa Wilson.

Burgess left the scene before officers arrived. Des Moines police tried to contact him around 1:15 a.m. on Saturday. They found him dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at 440 East Marion.

“The families on both sides, I can’t imagine what they're going through. Thankful that we had this investigation and we had those witnesses to provide some sort of closure and some sort of answers, but sometimes we can’t answer all the questions the family will have,” said Wilson.

Burgess is not a stranger to violence. In 2005 he was charged with attempted murder, going armed with intent, and criminal gang participation. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of willful injury. In January of 2018, he vanished after being placed in a work release program. Police say this is a crime that should not have happened.

“We never want to see these types of tragedies unfold. That was somebody's daughter. That was somebody's son. We never want to see those tragedies. So, if they're in a situation, if you know someone that's in a situation, encourage them to seek help and seek counselling and hopefully mend that relationship. If there's a protection then law enforcement can step in," said Wilson.

A pastor from the victim’s church says their entire congregation is hurting from this tragedy.

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