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Jason Roberts, son of black mat pioneer Simon Roberts, killed in shooting

Jason Blair Roberts, founder of an anti-gun violence group in the Quad Cities and son of African-American wrestling pioneer Simon Roberts, was shot to death early Saturday morning in his hometown of Davenport, Iowa. Jason Blair Roberts was 46.

Roberts was shot at approximately 2 a.m. Saturday morning just west of downtown Davenport. First responders took him to a nearby hospital where he died.

Jason Blair Roberts
Jason Blair Roberts was a founder of "Boots on the Ground" a grassroots organization established to end gun violence in the Quad Cities, a metropolitan area consisting of a number of communities on either side of the Mississippi River including Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline and Rock Island, Illinois.

The Roberts family issued this statement:

"We are shocked and deeply saddened by the senseless murder of our sweet Jason Blair. Jason was a loving son, brother, husband, uncle and friend. Most importantly he was a father to four beautiful young ladies who will miss him dearly. We ask that the media respect our privacy at this time. Our family and friends need this time to both grieve and celebrate his life. Please remember that Jason was a caring and peaceful man. He would expect us to be compassionate toward one another at this time, despite our pain."

Others who knew Jason Roberts expressed their reaction to Roberts' murder.

"It's just a shock because he wasn't involved in the street life or a gang," Dwayne Hodges, a longtime friend who played sports and attended Davenport Central High School with Roberts in the late 1980s, told the Quad-City Times. "I don't know one person who would have a bad word to say about him; he was a devoted community person."

"It's sad that somebody in the community would take this man away from his family and everyone that loved him," he continued. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact he's no longer here."

The Rev. Daniel Teague, a leader within the Boots on the Ground organization and cousin to the now-deceased man, told WQAD-TV, the ABC affiliate in the Quad Cities, "That was a good man. He wouldn't hurt a fly. No one deserves to die in the streets like that."

Some in the family believe that someone within the community knows who the killer is and should come forth with that information.

"My prayer right now is that loyalty he showed friends in life, that they show him in death and help bring closure to this situation we're in right now," said Teague.

No suspects have been caught as of Tuesday afternoon. Crime Stoppers of the Quad Cities is offering a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to arrest of the person or people responsible for the Jason Roberts homicide.

Jason Blair Roberts earned an associate degree in liberal arts from Black Hawk College in Moline and a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of New Mexico, according to his LinkedIn profile. He had worked at Progressive Insurance since 2000.

The murder victim's father, Simon Roberts, was a groundbreaking individual within the sport of wrestling. Si Roberts, who wrestled at what is now Davenport Central High School, was the first black wrestler to win an Iowa state title in 1954. Three years later, the elder Roberts made history again, as the first African-American to win a national mat championship at the 1957 NCAAs, wrestling for the University of Iowa. Si Roberts later became the first wrestling coach of color in the Quad Cities at Alleman Catholic High School. He was a noted civil rights leader within the Quad Cities area who now lives in Kansas City, Mo.

In addition to his father and mother Betty, Jason Blair Roberts is survived by his wife Yolanda French, daughters Jalynn Rose, Olivia Jae, Kashé and Déja Robinson; sisters Paula McDowell of Kansas City, Dori (Byron) Canady of Santa Rosa, CA, Melanie "Missy" Roberts of Kansas City, Jodi (Maurice) Brown of Indianapolis and Kristen Roberts of Davenport; his brothers Anthony (Robin) Roberts of Davenport, Patrick (Aimee) Roberts of Moline and Bradley Roberts of St. Louis; numerous nieces and nephews; aunts, uncles and extended family.

UPDATE: Funeral services will be at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, June 15, 2018 at the Halligan-McCabe-DeVries Funeral Home, 614 Main Street, downtown Davenport. Burial will be in Oakdale Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the funeral home.

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