116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Five officers at the scene Tuesday night of a structure fire in rural Jones County fired their guns to stop a man with a knife who had ignored commands to drop it — leaving him dead from “multiple gunshot wounds,” investigators said Wednesday.
All five officers are on routine administrative leave while the shooting is investigated. A sixth — a Linn County deputy who fired rounds described as “non lethal” — was on personal leave.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety, a total of 11 law enforcement agencies and fire departments ultimately responded to a 911 call made to the Jones County Sheriff’s Office from a home at 23966 42nd St. near Martelle. When the deputies arrived, they saw a large structure fire and the person armed with a knife.
The man, identified by authorities as Jeremy Michael Berg, 45, of Elkport, did not comply with orders from law enforcement to drop the knife and was shot by officers, according to the Public Safety Department. Investigators did say why Berg was at the property/
The department said five officers — two Jones County deputies and three Anamosa police officers — fired their service weapons, but did not say how many rounds they fired or whether all the officers struck Berg. The department said the Iowa Medical Examiner’s Office would perform an autopsy Thursday.
The department’s Division of Criminal Investigation is reviewing the shooting. Special Agent-in-Charge Rick Rahn declined to answer questions Wednesday about whether Berg had threatened officers or someone else before the fatal shooting, and why law enforcement agencies from multiple counties responded to the incident.
The Public Safety Department said these organizations came to the scene: Jones Sheriff’s Office, Linn County Sheriff’s Office, Anamosa Police Department, Mount Vernon Police Department, Monticello Police Department, Iowa State Patrol, Martelle Volunteer Fire Department, Lisbon Volunteer Fire Department, Anamosa Volunteer Fire Department, Mount Vernon Volunteer Fire Department and the Morley Volunteer Fire Department.
The Anamosa Police Department has eight full-time officers, including the chief and sergeant, as well as three part-time officers, the city’s website states. Department administrators and the mayor did not immediately respond to a question about how the department would cover law enforcement needs in the city with three officers on leave.
A Linn County deputy who used non-lethal rounds has been allowed to take paid leave after the incident, but he can come back to work anytime, Sheriff Brian Gardner said.
“Due to a misunderstanding of what we were actually doing, our deputy was not actually placed on paid administrative leave, since he was not directly involved in the (officer-involved shooting),” Gardner said in an email. “Rather, he has been allowed to take some paid personal time off. It may mostly be a matter of semantics, but this allows him to return to work when he feels ready to do so. His short-term absence will not hamper our operations.”
Linn County responded to the scene after a request for mutual aid, Gardner said.
Linn County deputies have access to batons, tear gas, pepper spray projectiles and kinetic energy/bean bag rounds, according to a county policy on less-than-lethal devices. Because of the ongoing investigation, Gardner declined to say what type of device his deputy used at the incident.
Linn County’s use of force policy says: “Deputies shall use only that amount of force that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and circumstances perceived by the deputy at the time of the event to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose. The reasonableness of force will be judged from the perspective of a reasonable deputy on the scene at the time of the incident.”
The Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the fire.
John McGlothlen of The Gazette contributed to this report.