Cedar Rapids man's attempted murder trial reset to April

Search warrant details 'Santa Claus' attack of 'drinking buddy' in wildlife area

Ronald Gonterman
Ronald Gonterman

IOWA CITY — The trial for a Cedar Rapids man, charged with stabbing his friend as well as shooting at him multiple times in June while the two were in the Hawkeye Wildlife Management Area, is reset to April 3 in Johnson County District Court.

Ronald G. Gonterman, 66, is charged with attempted murder in the stabbing of Michael A. White, 49, of Cedar Rapids, on June 29.

A search warrant affidavit states that White called 911 and told Johnson County dispatchers he had been stabbed multiple times.

White said he didn’t know where he was, but law enforcement, using mapping software, located him on Swan Lake Road, about one-half mile east of Greencastle Avenue, which is commonly referred to as Babcock’s Landing in the wildlife area.

Authorities said White’s shirt and pants were soaked in blood, and he had four puncture wounds in his back near his spinal column. He was taken to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, according to the search warrant.

White, at the hospital, told authorities he and Gonterman, who was nicknamed “Santa Claus” because of his full white beard, were “friends and drinking buddies,” according to the search warrant affidavit.

The two men had lived near each other in the Bever Avenue SE area in Cedar Rapids for years, White said.

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White met Gonterman around 9 or 10 a.m. June 29, and Gonterman asked him to have a beer with him, the search warrant shows.

Gonterman drove them to a nearby Casey’s store to get one can of beer, and then Gonterman headed south on Interstate 380, exiting the highway at some point and driving to an isolated area, White told authorities.

White told police he and Gonterman had not been arguing or fighting before the attack, according to the search warrant. He said they were sharing the beer but were not intoxicated.

White said Gonterman parked near the river and asked White if he could swim. White thought he was “just messing” with him, but Gonterman pulled out a small black semi-automatic pistol and told White to get out of the truck.

White told authorities Gonterman pointed the gun out the window and pulled the trigger, but it didn’t fire, so he reinserted the magazine and again pointed it out the window and fired two shots.

Gonterman then threatened White by saying, “You think I won’t shoot you,” and struck him twice in the head with the gun.

Gonterman told White again to get out of the truck and throw away his phone. White refused and stayed in the truck, according to search warrant.

White, as he was leaning forward to tuck his phone into his sock, felt pressure on his back. He thought Gonterman was hitting him with the gun.

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White then saw blood dripping down his arm and realized he was hurt. At that point, he got out of the truck and tried to call 911.

Gonterman backed up the truck and drove forward, trying to run down White, the search warrant states. White moved off the road, and Gonterman fired three or four shots at him, though no bullets struck him.

Gonterman drove away before police arrived and was later arrested, the search warrant shows.

If convicted of attempted murder, Gonterman faces 25 years in prison.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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