Homeless man dismissed of most charges after firing gun in Iowa City grocery store

No injuries were reported when gun went off in bathroom

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Update (added 5/28/13): Most of the charges against Braelon J. White in the below incident were dismissed. White was arrested on suspicion of felony carrying weapons and misdemeanor carrying weapons, reckless use of a firearm and discharge of firearms in connection with the incident. Online court records show the felony carrying weapons, reckless use of a firearm and discharge of firearms in city limits charges were dismissed. White pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor carrying weapons charge in March. He was sentenced to 120 days in jail and a fine of $315.

Previous story: An apparently homeless man was arrested Monday at the shelter in Iowa City after police said he fired a handgun in the bathroom at a nearby grocery store over the weekend.

Officers were called to the Hy-Vee Food Store at 1720 Waterfront Drive in Iowa City about 8:30 p.m. Saturday after employees heard a single gunshot in the bathroom, according to a criminal complaint.

Workers told investigators that only one man was in the bathroom at the time of the gunshot, and they later found a 9 mm casing on the bathroom floor, police reported. The workers told officers that the suspect left the bathroom in a hurry and walked toward the homeless shelter, which is located a few blocks from the Hy-Vee.

Officers found a man matching the description at the shelter a short time later, and Hy-Vee workers identified him as the same man who was in the bathroom when the gunshot occurred, according to the complaint.

Investigators searched the surrounding area and found the gun they believe was used in the Hy-Vee, along with a couple loaded magazines, according to police. A K-Mart identification card for the suspect was found with the gun and magazines, police reported, and they found a footprint matching the shoe he was wearing.

Braelon J. White, 23, was arrested Monday on suspicion of felony carrying weapons and misdemeanor carrying weapons, reckless use of a firearm and discharge of firearms. He's being held in the Johnson County Jail in lieu of a $13,500 bond, according to online jail records.

Police reported that White has prior weapons charges in Chicago, including a robbery charge as a juvenile that was adjudicated.

Ruth Comer, Hy-Vee assistant vice president for media relations, said the store was not evacuated when the gun was fired, and customers were not notified of the shooting. Employees didn't know for certain what caused the loud noise, and they called police first, Comer said.

"That is what we instruct employees to do," she said. "Contact law enforcement immediately."

Employees, she said, are told not to make assumptions.

"At that point, it becomes a police matter," she said. "Let them be the experts."

Comer said that all HyVee stores have security at varying levels, depending on each location's needs. She wouldn't comment on specifics of the security in place at the Iowa City HyVee, but she said there are not security changes in store for the Waterfront location in response to the gunshot on Saturday.

"I think our store handled it exactly the way we tell stores to handle it," Comer said.

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