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Public Safety

Officer shot with BB gun, shoots suspect in Iowa City, police say

DCI investigating scene of officer-involved shooting at Iowa City bus stop

Iowa City police investigate at 1200 S. Riverside Drive, Iowa City, on Monday, July 29, 2019. (Lee Hermiston/The Gazette)
Iowa City police investigate at 1200 S. Riverside Drive, Iowa City, on Monday, July 29, 2019. (Lee Hermiston/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — An Iowa City police officer investigating a shoplifting complaint Monday afternoon was shot several times in the face with a BB gun and returned fire with his real gun, authorities said.

Both the officer and his alleged assailant were hospitalized, but neither had been publicly identified by police.

“It sounds like he’ll be OK,” Iowa City police Capt. Denise Brotherton said of the injured officer.

The shooting escalated from a shoplifting investigation that began about 3:29 p.m., police said.

An officer responded to a complaint from a business at 11 Highway 1 W., a strip retail center. Police said a shoplifting suspect was found nearby. As the officer was investigating, the suspect shot a BB gun at him multiple times, hitting him in the face.

The officer returned fire, authorities said, and struck the suspect.

Police cars and crime-scene tape surrounded the area of a bus stop at 1200 S. Riverside Drive, where it appears the shooting occurred.

Iowa City police and fire officials, as well as the Johnson County Ambulance Service, responded to the scene.

A witness, Laura Fehrmann, told The Gazette she saw two officers with stun guns drawn order a woman to the ground.

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She said the woman refused the officers’ orders and they “proceeded to take her to the ground” and handcuffed her. It was unclear how the woman was related to the shooting.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is reviewing the incident, which is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting.

Monday’s incident is this year’s second officer-involved shooting for the Iowa City Police Department.

Last month, Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness found that Officers Travis Neeld and Alex Stricker were justified in shooting Michael A. Cintron-Caceres, 34, multiple times the early morning of May 9 at Big Ten Rentals in Iowa City.

In that incident, police responded to burglar alarms at two nearby businesses. An officer encountered Cintron-Caceres, who authorities said ran from the scene and into an enclosed lot at Big Ten Rentals.

Officers found Cintron-Caceres hiding in the back seat of a Ford F-450 pickup in the lot. Rather than get out of the truck, police said, Cintron-Caceres started the truck and used it as a battering ram, smashing into objects in front of and behind him.

After unsuccessfully trying to subdue Cintron-Caceres with a stun gun, Neeld and Sticker both fired their guns, bringing the incident to an end, police said.

Cintron-Caceres was hit once in each shoulder. He later admitted to being high on crack cocaine at the time.

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“I conclude that they acted with reasonable force in defending themselves and others,” Lyness wrote in her report. “They used the level of force necessary to protect themselves, other officers and the public from the threat posed by Cintron-Caceres.”

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