Iowa police forced to shoot raging driver on college campus
The man, 19, drove in reverse, crashing into a cruiser, and recklessly drove backwards through bike lanes
By Vanessa Miller
AMES, Iowa — The driver of a stolen truck who was shot and killed on the Iowa State University campus Mondayhas been identified as 19-year-old Tyler Comstock of Boone.
Ames police also have identified the officer who reportedly fired the shots that killed Comstock following a vehicle pursuit through town as Adam McPherson. McPherson has been with the Ames Police Department for more than eight years and is assigned to the day shift patrol division.
Monday's shooting was the first time McPherson has fired his weapon at a suspect on duty, said Ames police Cmdr. Geoff Huff. McPherson is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into what occurred and whether the fatal shooting was justified.
Huff said Ames police, the Iowa State University police and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation are working together on the case. The DCI will lead the investigation into the shooting while the Story County Attorney's Office will make the final decision on whether the use of force was justified or whether the officer should face criminal charges in the case.
It is standard procedure to place an officer involved in a shooting on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation.
The incident began at 10:17 a.m. Monday when Ames police received a report of a stolen vehicle from a man who said his son had become upset and taken his pickup truck and trailer, according to a news release. McPherson responded, according to Huff, and located the truck at Grand Avenue and South 4th Street.
McPherson reportedly followed the vehicle initially before activating his emergency lights. But, instead of pulling over, Comstock is accused of speeding up and continuing west to Beach Avenue. Comstock, at one point, is accused of stopping the vehicle and reversing, pushing the trailer into the police car and partially onto its hood, according to police.
Comstock then sped away again, police reported, running a red light and becoming unhitched from the trailer. McPherson continued to follow the truck around Union Drive and eventually north on Morrill Road -- against one-way traffic in the bike and pedestrian lanes, according to police.
Witnesses told police that people were jumping out of the way of the truck, which then jumped the curb onto a grassy area north of the university's Campanile. McPherson unsuccessfully tried to ram the vehicle to get it to stop, police reported.
Comstock is accused of continuing to drive around the grassy area, prompting pedestrians to jump out of the way, according to Ames police. He eventually stopped in a wooded area but continued to rev the engine and go back and forth, police reported.
Officers gave verbal comma
nds to turn off the vehicle, but Comstock didn't comply, and McPherson fired six rounds at the truck "tostop the ongoing threat to the public and the officers," according to police.
The truck, while continuing to rev, no longer was moving, and officers approached the vehicle. They found Comstock had been hit by the gunfire, and he was taken to Mary Greeley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Huff told The Gazette on Tuesday that Comstock had threatened police by ramming cars and that it "was a pretty scary situation." He said the incident happened at a time when most students were in class.
"There were fewer people out and about at that time," Huff said. "Had it occurred between classes, there would have been thousands of people walking along the sidewalks and in the central campus area."
"We are very fortunate no one else was hurt," he said.
Police haven't released information about whether Comstock was believed to have had a gun or other weapon with him in the truck. Huff also declined to comment about whether Comstock's father reported his son as being dangerous when he called police.
"That's all part of the investigation," Huff said.
Comstock's criminal history in Iowa includes a handful of minor charges, including disorderly conduct, drug possession, curfew and driving violations.
On her Facebook page, a woman who says she's Comstock's mother wrote on Monday, "My baby boy is gone after Ames police shot him this morning after a chase. Please take a moment to honor him today."
Shari Comstock goes on to say that she doesn't know why officers shot him "when he was unarmed" and they had him "blocked in."
Copyright 2013 The Gazette
McClatchy-Tribune News Service