CEDAR RAPIDS — A narcotics investigation turned fatal Tuesday night when a suspect fired a gun at Cedar Rapids police and was killed by their return fire, authorities said.
Jonathan Tyler Gossman, 21, of Cedar Rapids was killed after he ran away from and then fired at two officers as they tried to arrest him, police said. Neither officer, whose names were not released, was injured.
The vehicle he was riding in was pulled over at 10:33 p.m. in the 3200 block of Ravenwood Terrace NW. One of the officers involved was in plainclothes. The other was in uniform. Police Chief Wayne Jerman said he has “no doubt” Gossman knew he was shooting at police.
“I can't get into the statements that were made,” Jerman said Wednesday. “There's no doubt from some witnesses that everybody involved in the stop were the police.”
The shooting marked the city's second police-involved shooting this year, but its first fatal encounter.
According to Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow, three people inside the vehicle — including Gossman, a passenger — were believed to have been involved in “drug-related activity at a drugstore in the area.”
Police said the traffic stop was made by a plainclothes officer in an unmarked car as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation. Jerman declined to comment on that investigation.
A uniformed officer with a dog was summoned before the stop was made, Jerman said.
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“It's a standard practice that K-9s are often requested ... to participate in furthering an investigation,” said Jerman, who said the police dog was trained in narcotics detection.
Once the vehicle pulled over, Gossman got out and ran, according to police. The two officers and police dog gave chase and located him within a block.
Less than 10 minutes after the stop, the officers attempted to arrest him. Jerman estimated this occurred on the sidewalk 30 to 50 yards away from where the vehicle had been stopped.
Police said Gossman pulled a gun on the officers and fired. The officers returned fire and Gossman was killed.
A police statement does not specify how many shots were fired or how may shots struck Gossman. Jerman said “multiple” shots were fired by the officers.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation was called in to investigate the police shooting, which is standard protocol. The officers involved have been put on paid administrative leave, which is also standard.
DCI Special Agent in Charge Richard Rahn said interviews with the officers involved are tentatively scheduled for Friday. Authorities said the officers' names would not be released until those interviews have been completed.
The two other people in the vehicle with Gossman were taken to the police station to be interviewed. Rahn said they were not in custody. Jerman said he could not comment on whether they would face charges.
Jerman said he had faith that the DCI would conduct a thorough investigation.
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“Whenever an officer is forced to make the decision to deploy deadly force, it's never taken lightly,” he said. “My utmost concern is for the safety of all officers, 24 hours a day.”
According to court records, Gossman was arrested by Anamosa police in May on charges of possession of contraband in a correctional facility, two counts of controlled substance violation, carrying weapons and failure to possess a weapons permit. The weapons permit and contraband charges were not filed.
He pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and carrying weapons, records show. Gossman was granted a deterred judgment for those offenses Monday, according to court records. That means the charges would have been removed from his record if he had successfully completed probation.
This marks the second officer-involved shooting in Cedar Rapids this year. In late March, officers shot and injured the driver of a car after a brief pursuit that led police into an alley between Center Point Road and Daniels Street NE. The driver, later identified as Kyle Orth, said he didn't see the officers get out of their car and said if he had driven toward them, he would have hit their car. Orth faces trial on five charges.
Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden reviewed that incident and absolved the officers of wrongdoing.