Police release details of shootout
DES MOINES (AP) — Authorities remained puzzled Thursday about why a man with a lengthy arrest record went on a shooting rampage in his Des Moines neighborhood, sparking an exchange of gunfire with police.
Steven Jon Vogel, 38, died Wednesday night in a hospital from gunshot wounds sustained in the shootout earlier in the day on the city’s south side. He shot about 100 rounds within 20 minutes, firing at homes and moving vehicles, Sgt. Jason Halifax said at a press conference.
Criminal records show Vogel had been arrested several times before Wednesday’s shooting, but authorities said that didn’t explain the rampage.
“We have no motive at this point,” Halifax said.
Vogel had a handgun and a .308 caliber rifle when he was found unresponsive in his backyard, Halifax said.
Vogel was seen shouldering a weapon and directly aiming it at motorists and officers. One man in a passing vehicle was shot and received non-life-threatening injuries.
Authorities said they began receiving multiple calls Wednesday afternoon about shots being fired in the area. Some told police that Vogel was shooting a rifle from his front yard. One neighbor helped update officers about Vogel’s location.
He was arrested over the years on various charges including criminal mischief, simple assault, harassment and assault with a weapon for use of a pellet gun. The assault with a weapon charge included an order that he turn in all weapons to police. Vogel’s gun permit was revoked, and officials are still determining how he acquired both weapons.
The two officers who shot at Vogel, Zachary McCarthy and Lt. David Seybert, have been placed on paid administrative leave until the investigation is complete.
Des Moines Police Chief Judy Bradshaw applauded the work of the department, which involved a heavy police response in part because officers were in the middle of a shift change.
“I was just awestruck with their courage to move into the area,” she said of the initial response, and added, “The officers that responded really did an extraordinary job.”
Another factor that worked in favor of police was that students at nearby schools had been let out early and were not walking home from school as they usually are at that time.
“You could imagine the potential danger we would have had if two schools had been letting out at the same time,” said Maj. Steve Waymire, who is leading an investigation into the shooting.
Larry Chiles, 75, who was driving by when the shooting occurred, received a bullet graze to the head. He drove himself to a nearby clinic, and was then transported by ambulance to a hospital. He’s expected to make a full recovery.
Authorities say they’re still collecting evidence from the crime scene. At least seven houses and three cars were hit, though authorities expect neighbors could find more bullet holes.