Memorial page for slain Dubuque teen turns ugly - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Memorial page for slain Dubuque teen turns ugly

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

One person is dead and another injured after an overnight shooting in Dubuque Saturday.

Police responded to the 2000 block of Jackson Street Saturday night, just before midnight. At the scene, officers found 15-year-old Marlon Barber Jr., of Dubuque, on the ground suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

16-year-old Demarcus Timmons, also of Dubuque, was in the 2100 block of Washington Street. He, too, had gunshot wounds.

Barber died early Sunday morning while in surgery.

Monday morning, doctors discharged Timmons from the Finley Hospital. Family members at the teen's house Monday morning said Timmons was doing alright and declined to comment further.

Police said an initial investigation shows both victims were at a party in Dubuque. After a petty dispute, two groups of people - one of which included both Timmons and Barber - went outside. That's when and where the shooting took place.

"I don't want to speculate too much on what the true nature of the initial dispute was, other than the fact that it was very minor in comparison to the loss of a life," Dubuque police chief Mark Dalsing said. "Whether it was over a female, whether it was over who looked at who wrong, it's ridiculous that something so minor could cause the death of one person and hospitalization of another."

A Facebook page called "R.I.P Marlon Barber" popped up shortly after the teen's death. While it contains dozens of loving, supportive messages, a small number of people used the page to voice hate-filled, racially-charged messages, generalizing the issue of race and crime in Dubuque.

"It's disgusting that people will use a tragedy to promote their political agenda or their social views," Dalsing said. "The Internet is what it is. It's a great way for people to say what they want anonymously. A great way to stir the pot, and it's just incredibly unfortunate that it takes the loss of a young man for people to crawl out of the woodwork and act the way they do."

Many of the original offending comments have been removed from the Facebook page.

Lynn Sutton sits on the Dubuque city council. She is the city's the first black council member and has said she hopes to act as a leader in Dubuque's black community. On Monday afternoon, she addressed some of the hate-filled messages on the Barber Facebook memorial page.

"The thing we have to remember is people lost loved ones and they are grieving, and posting all these things on Facebook is not helping these families, not helping these friends," she said.

In a phone conversation Monday afternoon, Barber's father Marlon Barber Sr. said his son lived with him in Chicago up until just about two months ago. He said his son had moved back and forth between Chicago and Dubuque, where his mother lives, in the past. He said his son went to Dubuque to escape the violence of Chicago.

"We lost our son and we lost a brother and it's wrong, all this killing," Barber said.

Barber said his son, the oldest of five children, was outgoing and liked to dance, rap, sing and be around his four younger siblings.

"I love my son and miss him dearly," Barber said. "He's in a better place."

According to the Dubuque Community School District, Timmons is not currently enrolled. Barber was enrolled at Hempstead High School.

Four Oaks, which provides school-based programming in partnership with the public schools, confirms Barber attended its Dubuque program.

Both the district and Four Oaks said they're offering support in regard to this tragic incident to any student who seeks it.

Dalsing said there's no evidence to suggest the shootings were gang-related.

"That's one of the big problems is, people make that big leap, that they think, 'Oh,' right away, 'it's two groups of minorities. Must be gang related.' A lot of these kids have been in Dubuque for a long time," Dalsing said.

As of Monday evening, county prosecutors have not filed any charges, nor have police arrested anybody or even named any suspects.

Dubuque police said there are several people who know specifically what happened in this incident and who is responsible. While a number of these people have been identified, police say there are still a number of people who have yet to come forward. Police said they "want to emphasize how incredible important it is for those with information to come forward."

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Dubuque Police Department at 563-589-4415.

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