116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Discovered Sunday night with a gunshot wound in a crashed car, Marine Gabriel Heefner is “fighting for his life” in intensive care, his father said, while Iowa City police continue to investigate the shooting.
Police said Heefner’s vehicle left the roadway and crashed into the median just west of Sycamore Street. The 20-year-old was found in it, shot in the head.
His father, Nile Heefner, told The Gazette he wants people to know more about his son in hopes of helping the police identify who shot him. Iowa City police said Tuesday evening they have identified a person of interest, but an arrest has not been made. The identity of the person of interest was not released.
Nile and his wife, Codi, both grew up in Iowa City. Gabriel, who goes by Gabe, was born in Iowa City. The Heefners moved to Missouri eight years after Gabe was born and now live in Kirkwood; Gabe is the oldest of three children.
Gabe was visiting his grandparents Sunday in Iowa City, his father said. While his grandparents were at their church group, Gabe drove to pick up food from Panda Express. Police have a video showing Gabe going through the drive through and then driving down Highway 6 eastbound in the left lane, Nile said.
Somewhere before Sycamore Street, Gabe was shot, his father said.
Gabe’s driver-side window was slightly open and the bullet entered through the gap and struck him in the temple, Nile said. No other bullets hit the car, he added.
“Just one (bullet) hit my son, went through his temple in his brain, and he's fighting to stay alive” at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Nile said.
Nile said his son enrolled in the Marine Corps in February and made it through boot camp, infantry training and communications school, where he graduated first in his class out of 45. As a lance corporal, Gabe was going to go to Okinawa, Japan, at the end of the month for three years to serve as a Marine in the communication field.
“I think it's ironic that he joined the Marines to serve his country and he comes to his hometown and gets shot in the head,” Nile said. “It's just a nightmare to be going through as a parent.”
Nile said his family is grateful for the prayers and support they’ve gotten from friends and family.
Gabe’s friends created a GoFundMe fundraiser to help the family with medical bills. The fundraiser is about halfway to its $40,000 goal, and more than 350 people have donated.
Anyone with information or video of the area is asked to contact the Iowa City Police Department at (319) 356-5275. Police said they do not believe there is an active threat to the public related to this incident.
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