A 24-year-old white man from Des Moines has been charged with 10 counts of attempted murder in connection with that shoot-out yesterday at a hotel near the Des Moines airport. Three undercover agents were injured. One, a woman, has already been released. The other two, both men, are in the hospital in serious but stable condition. Des Moines police Sergeant Todd Dykstra says an undercover cop bought drugs from two men in a hotel room. As other cops approached to make the arrest, that’s when 24-year-old Dennis Schofield started shooting. His alleged colleague in crime, 28-year-old Lee Castillo, was unarmed but charged at cops. After the exchange of gunshots inside the Heartland Inn, Schofield ran outside into the parking lot where other cops were waiting and that’s where he was taken into custody. One of the three undercover cops and four more who were outside fired shots at the suspects, both of whom are now in the hospital in serious but stable condition — and being guarded by police. Bill Vaughn of the Polk County Sheriff’s Department says local law enforcement is a bit tense right now. “Everybody’s alarmed,” Vaughn says. “There have been a number of shootings this year and last year in which law enforcement officers were fired upon.” Vaughn was at a Des Moines hospital yesterday when the shoot-out took place, visiting with the family of a deputy who’s still in the hospital after being shot nearly a month ago. “From the public safety side, we sometimes feel that it’s open season on cops and when you walk away from an event like this…it does effect morale in the sense that everybody’s upset about it and wish that this just wasn’t a part of the environment we’re working in,” Vaughn says. “But certainly that’s what we’re seeing more and more of these days. It’s just the lay of the land.” Vaughn believes the escalation in gun violence is due to an escalation in the drug trade. “We do everything we can to make things safe for the officers involved as well as the public, but there’s certain things that despite every safety practice you might put in place you cannot make it fully safe,” Vaughn says. “That’s why our deputies and officers wear ballistic vests, carry ballistic shields and have adequate staff on hand to address these things when things go south.” There were other guests in the hotel and hotel parking lot when yesterday’s bust was going south. Dykstra is reluctant to answer questions about what precautions were taken to ensure bystanders didn’t get involved. “There was an operational plan by the undercovere officers, so all the detailed plans were in place,” Dykstra says. “As far as specific details, we’re not going to get into that at this time.” Dykstra says the undercover investigation had been underway for some time, and the amount of meth involved makes it a big time bust.Dykstra says there was “a large quantity (of meth) worth several thousand dollars.” Castillo is charged with possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine while armed and conspiracy to deal drugs. Schofield has been charged with 10 counts of attempted murder, with three counts of willful injury and of carrying a concealed weapon. Other drug charges are pending. You can hear the news conference held Wednesday morning at Des Moines police headquarters at www.radioiowa.com.
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