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The alleged gunman from Boone who killed two Iowa State College college students outdoors an Ames church Thursday had just lately been charged with harassing one of many victims in what authorities described as a “home state of affairs.”
Story County sheriff officers stated Johnathan Lee Whitlatch, 33, shot and killed 22-year-old Eden Mariah Montang and 21-year-old Vivian Renee Flores within the parking zone of Ames’ Cornerstone Church simply earlier than 7 p.m. Thursday earlier than turning the gun on himself.
Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald known as the capturing a focused assault by Whitlatch. He and Montang had a relationship that had just lately ended, Fitzgerald stated.
“I feel he was there for a selected function, which he achieved,” Fitzgerald stated.
Montang, of Boone, was a senior within the School of Human Sciences, and Flores, of West Des Moines, was a junior within the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in accordance with a press release signed by Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen and different college officers.
They have been on the church Thursday night time with a 3rd lady, a good friend who was not injured within the capturing, for a Bible research service with The Salt Firm, the church’s college ministry.
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Authorities acquired a number of 911 calls concerning the capturing at 6:51 p.m. Thursday, Fitzgerald stated. Deputies have been dispatched one minute later and arrived at 6:56.
At 6:59 p.m. police confirmed the shooter was down from an obvious self-inflicted gunshot wound to the pinnacle, in accordance with Fitzgerald, who stated the weapon was a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol.
He stated it was nonetheless being investigated whether or not the weapon was legally inside Whitlatch’s possession.
Ames Police Division Commander Jason Tuttle had been contained in the church as a congregant and likewise responded, arriving at about the identical time as the primary deputies did, Fitzgerald stated. He added that no officers fired pictures — the shooter had shot himself earlier than they arrived.
Fitzgerald stated authorities searched Whitlatch’s car, which he drove to the church, and residence following the capturing. An AR-15 rifle with ammunition was discovered on the house, however the weapon performed no function within the capturing on the church, he stated.
Extra 9mm ammunition was been present in Whitlatch’s pickup truck — a few of it bought the hour earlier than the capturing from a enterprise in West Des Moines.
“Every little thing that is been introduced to me, at this level, signifies that he is a lone particular person, and we don’t suspect others being charged down the street, however that can all be answered as we we full this investigation,” Fitzgerald stated.
He added that investigators, together with brokers from the FBI, could be taking a look at social media and doing interviews with folks on the church that will have identified extra concerning the relationship between Montang and Whitlatch.
“There’s an entire host of issues that we nonetheless want to finish in an effort to carry a full understanding as to what occurred and why,” he stated.
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Court docket information present allegations of assault, home violence
The week earlier than the capturing, Whitlatch had been charged with third-degree harassment and impersonating a public official.
Court docket information allege that on Could 1, a person repeatedly known as Therapeutic massage Heights in Ames, the Ames enterprise the place Montang labored as an authorized therapeutic massage therapist, and claimed to be a police officer investigating an inappropriate relationship between Montang and one other officer, or that he’d reported such a relationship to the Ames Tribune.
The caller gave a number of false names, however the calls have been recorded and his voice matched Whitlatch’s, in accordance with the complaints.
The court docket had set a $6,500 bond for Whitlatch, and a court docket listening to had been scheduled for June 10, in accordance with court docket doc.
Court docket information indicatethe Could incident was not the primary through which Whitlatch has been accused of violent or inappropriate actions towards ladies.
Whitlatch had a wedding finish in divorce in 2014, and that he had no less than two youngsters with different ladies, each of whom later took him to court docket in search of little one help, court docket information present. A type of ladies, with whom he had a toddler in 2016, additionally sought and acquired a home abuse protecting order in 2017.
In her petition, the lady — whom the Des Moines Register shouldn’t be naming — writes that on August 5, 2017, Whitlatch grabbed her by the throat and made a movement as if to punch her, however stopped earlier than the blow landed. The next day, she wrote, he threatened that he was going to come back to her house and homicide her.
The lady stated she was involved that Whitlatch had navy coaching and entry to a gun.
Sgt. First Class Christie Smith, a spokesperson for the Iowa Nationwide Guard, confirmed that Whitlatch was an lively member of the guard, assigned as a human useful resource specialist to Detachment 1, Headquarters Assist Firm, 248th Aviation Assist Battalion in Boone. Smith stated the Guard couldn’t instantly share particulars about Whitlatch’s self-discipline document however stated he was assembly all necessities to be an lively member of the guard, together with month-to-month drills.
No felony costs have been filed within the 2017 case, however Whitlatch was charged in November of final 12 months after a girl accused him of placing his hand in her clothes and groping her at a Cedar Falls bar. Investigators confirmed this with surveillance digicam footage, however when interviewed, Whitlatch stated he did not keep in mind his actions and “solely remembers bits and items of the night time, as there was consuming concerned,” in accordance with the criticism.
Whitlatch was charged in Black Hawk County with assault with intent to commit sexual assault, an aggravated misdemeanor. Court docket information present he was scheduled to face trial on July 19.
In the meantime, Whitlatch confronted his second little one help case involving a toddler born in 2020. Court docket information present Whitlatch didn’t seem for the listening to in that case, and that on Could 27, 5 days earlier than the capturing, the court docket entered an order withholding his wages to cowl his unpaid little one help payments.
Correction: The identify of alleged gunman Johnathan Lee Whitlatch was misspelled in an earlier model of this story.
Should you need assistance
The Iowa Legal professional Normal’s Workplace recommends the next sources:
- Iowa Home Violence Helpline — 800-770-1650
- Nationwide Home Violence Hotline — 800-799-SAFE or 799-7233; TTY 800-787-3224; Textual content Line – Textual content “START” to 88788
- Love is Respect Teen Relationship Violence Hotline — 866-331-9474; Textual content Line: Textual content “LOVEIS” to 22522
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