Experts weigh in on crimes involving guns, stolen cars and teens

Local News

Gunfire and police chases involving stolen cars keep making headlines in 2021.

This goes back to last summer. Since the middle of December, four teenagers have died violent deaths.

A couple of weeks ago, 14-year-old Jamon Winfrey was found shot to death in a yard on Farnam Street in Davenport. Davenport police say he was caught in the crossfire between people in several stolen cars one day earlier.

Officers say he was in one of those cars.

Jamon was an eighth-grader at Wood Junior High School.

That crime is just one of more than almost 40 shooting incidents and more than 15 police pursuits Local 4 News has responded to since December.

“It’s a 14-year-old boy who was involved in this activity and now is dead,” said Davenport Police Chief Paul Sikorski.

Police pursuits involving stolen cars and gunfire have increased. Police say juveniles were connected to most of those crimes the most recent happened Feb. 24, when 14-year-old Jamon Winfrey was shot and killed. Soon after, a frustrated Davenport Police Chief Sikorski addressed growing crime concerns and the need for preventive action when it comes to kids.

“That family and kid can start addressing those early on before the kid is 14, 15, 16 years old in a stolen car shooting at other kids,” Sikorski said.

So many people, from community members, former felons and crime experts are dong everytjhing they can to prevent juveniles from going down the wrong path. They include Rusty Boruff, executive director of One Eighty, a faith-based organization.

Boruff himself was a juvenile offender.

“I stole my first car when I was 13,” he said. “Again, it was a group of kids and we didn’t have anything to do that night and for some reason I thought it would be a great idea to steal a car.” 

One thing that helped Boruff was that there were consequences for his actions.

“It was at a car dealership and I had to wash their cars all summer,” he said.

It didn’t stop from there for Boruff, and he ended up behind bars.

“One of the worst things I ever did was walk into someone’s house in broad daylight. They had their house unlocked and I stole a bunch of their stuff,” Boruff siad. “The reason why I stole was I wanted to take a girl on a date, and I didn’t have any money.” 

The consequences are what helped him turn his life around.

The number of juveniles who end up in that same spot is becoming alarming. The Scott County Juvenile Detention Center works with young kids after they’ve committed a crime. The majority of young people are there now for stealing cars.

Director Jeremy Kaiser says most have the same response as to why they did it.

“Number one, it’s fun,” Kaiser said. “Jumping into a car and take it for a joy ride and they go fast and they want to dog it out. They will dog out the car – they’re gonna smash into things. They think it’s funny and it’s just something that’s fun for them.”

Boruff says its’ critical to address the problem as soon as possible, because actions taken now will have an impact on juvenile in the coming years.

“It’s much more violent, it’s much more difficult to reverse course when they’ve become teenagers and so you really have to fight the battle on two fronts,” Boruff said.

“Yes, we have a juvenile crime issue that we have to deal with right now of kids who are teenagers, ” he said. “But we also have a situation that if we aren’t doing anything to prevent the next wave of teenagers, we’re going to be in the same situation here in another five or 10 years.” 

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