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CR Police Investigate Homicide

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - Cedar Rapids Police believe an early morning death is a case of homicide.  Investigators say 31-year-old Clifton Sparks of Cedar Rapids was found lying in the street in the 1800 block of B Avenue NE.  Officers called to the scene found Sparks unresponsive and he was later pronounced dead.

Authorities say Sparks sustained a traumatic injury and are now investigating his death as a homicide.

Police say at this time they do not believe there is an immediate threat to the public, though neighbors in the area were shocked by the news.

"I didn't sleep until 4 o'clock in the morning. I was too afraid," said Stephen Bowers.

He, his wife, and his mother-in-law live in a duplex on B Avenue NE, not far from where Sparks was found. Bowers thought he had just heard a car crash early Tuesday morning, until he took his dog out and saw police cars all over his street.

"I realized that there was a bunch of cops everywhere, and then I saw the dead body in the middle of the road, just a little bit that way," he said, gesturing.

Stephen's mother-in-law Julie said the neighborhood can be a little shaky, but always thought it was worse the closer you got to 1st Avenue. She likes the area, but was shocked by the news.

"I thought it was far enough from the main problem to where it would be okay, but now I don't know," Julie said.

In all of last year, Cedar Rapids had only three murders. With last week's double murder suicide and the possibility of Sparks' death being a homicide, 2014 would already be deadlier.

Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman said he's not sure what's causing the uptick in crime, but Cedar Rapids is still a safe city.

"Any number above zero is concerning because we are still dealing with three people who have lost their lives," Jerman said.

Sparks does have some criminal history, and police are looking into it as a part of their investigation, but are unsure whether it factors in yet, Jerman said.

There is still no official cause of Sparks' death. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

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