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2 more assaults reported near Ped Mall over weekend

BY REGINA ZILBERMINTS | APRIL 06, 2009 7:40 AM

Iowa City police are investigating two more assaults downtown this past weekend, something officials have said — and locals are figuring out — is not unusual.

In the first incident, officers responded to a report of a fight involving 10 to 15 people around 2 a.m. April 3 in the walkway between Martinis, 127 E. College St., and the Sheraton Hotel, 210 S. Dubuque St.

Officers found an unconscious male lying on the ground, police said. Witnesses told officers the unconscious male was part of a group that “exchanged words” with another group. A fight ensued, and the victim was injured, police reports show.

According to witnesses, a male allegedly punched the victim, knocking him to the ground. He held the victim there while a third male kicked him in the face. The groups continued to fight for a few moments before splitting apart, authorities said.

The suspect who allegedly punched the victim fled south on foot on Dubuque Street, and others in his group ran north into the Pedestrian Mall, according to police.

The victim was taken to UI Hospitals and Clinics suffering non-life-threatening injuries.

While officers were talking with witnesses, a second victim, who was bleeding from his nose and had a welt on the side of his face, approached officers. He told police he was also assaulted during the fight, officers said. The second victim left the area on foot while police continued their investigation, and the police were unable to obtain any additional information about his assault.

Iowa City police have said fights downtown are a common occurrence in Iowa City, usually occurring around the bars’ closing and fueled by alcohol.

“[A fight involving so many people] is more unusual, but it’s not something that hasn’t happened before,” said Iowa City police Lt. Dan Sellers. “Some people have groups, get mad at each other, and want to settle it.”

A second incident reportedly occurred on Burlington and Clinton Streets around 1:45 a.m. on April 3.

According to Iowa City police, the victims said they had been sitting in their vehicle when two males walked up, one of whom kicked the vehicle. When one of the victims got out, the two men assaulted him. The passenger was also assaulted when he got out of the vehicle, police reports show.

Both victims were treated at UIHC for head injuries.

The violence is receiving mixed reactions from UI students.

“It doesn’t concern me,” UI junior Josh Olin said. “I’ve never seen it or been involved.”

UI junior Trevor Jensen said he wasn’t aware of the two most recent assaults, but he is concerned.

And UI junior Alex Rich said, “It’s kind of a concern for people who go out on weekends. I know people who come back battered.”

And while police said there is a difference between fights with numerous willing participants and assaults, all three men agree there is a problem.

“Violence is violence; there is no difference,” Olin said.


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