116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Officers investigating a Sunday night shooting in south Iowa City that has a 20-year-old Marine fighting for his life have identified a person they suspect to be “responsible for the driver’s injury” and believe the shooting was “unintentional.”
Police, who are continuing to investigate, haven’t arrested the person they suspect is responsible, but noted, “There is no threat to public safety.”
At 6:37 p.m. Sunday, officers found Gabriel Heefner with a gunshot wound to the head and unconscious in his vehicle, which had crashed into a median west of the Highway 6 and Sycamore Street intersection. He was the only person in the car.
His father, Nile Heefner, told The Gazette on Friday that his son is fighting for his life in intensive care and remains in critical condition.
He thanked Iowa City police for their work to find out what happened to his son and to keep the community safe.
“We do hope there is some justice that can be done for my son for this careless, senseless act,” he said.
Gabriel, who goes by Gabe, was born in Iowa City, where his parents grew up. The family moved to Missouri eight years after Gabe was born, and Gabe was back in town over the weekend visiting his grandparents, according to Nile Heefner.
Gabe had driven to grab food at Panda Express while his grandparents were at a church group — and his father said police suspect he was shot somewhere before reaching Sycamore Street.
“Just one (bullet) hit my son, went through his temple in his brain, and he’s fighting to stay alive,” Nile Heefner said in a previous interview with The Gazette.
Gabe, who joined the Marine Corps in February, graduated top of his class and, as a lance corporal, was planning to head to Okinawa, Japan, this month for a three-year stint in the communications field.
According to a GoFundMe.com page for the Marine, which as of Friday had raised $40,000, police called his parents around 6:45 p.m. and told them their son had been in a car accident. They learned more once they arrived at the hospital.
At the scene of the crash, according to the page, Gabe was able to tell first responders his name and speak in complete sentences.
“Though his sentences weren’t making sense,” according to the page. “He was able to respond to commands on his right side.
“Things when downhill later that evening, and doctors ended up having to remove part of the left side of his skull to allow for the swelling in his brain.”
According to the page, doctors report “it is incredible that he survived, and he could talk and respond upon entrance to the trauma center.”
“Now it is just a waiting game to see how he responds once he regains full consciousness.”
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