Investigators say a man who killed himself after a shootout with a police officer in eastern Iowa earlier this month had a history of mental health issues and a break-up with his girlfriend may’ve “set him off.” The incident took place shortly before 3 a.m. on April 1st.
Maquoketa Police Sergeant Brendan Zeimet spotted a pickup parked the wrong way on a street and found 30-year-old Aaron Scott behind the wheel, apparently intoxicated, holding an assault rife.
Jackson County Attorney Sara Davenport said Monday Zeimet was “justified” when chose to fire at Scott several times. “Aaron Scott discharged his assault rifle at least 14 times and Sergeant Zeimet discharged his weapon 7 times,” Davenport said. Additional shell casings found days later in Scott’s pickup indicate he may have fired up to 19 times.
Sergeant Zeimet was hit in the forearm, while Scott was shot in the leg. Neither injury was life threatening. Davenport said it’s difficult to determine from video of the incident who fired first. “When Sergeant Zeimet was questioned by the DCI, he thought he had fired first,” Davenport said. “He thought he had fired as Scott’s rifle was being raised.”
After the exchange of gunfire, Scott drove away and was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was in his pickup, which had rolled over in Clinton County following a police chase.
Davenport said investigators can only speculate why Aaron Scott acted out. “We know he and his girlfriend had some sort of falling out that early morning. He has a history of mental health issues and substance abuse. It appears he was intoxicated,” Davenport said.
Scott had also called his estranged wife and told her that she needed to get to his house to take care of their son as he had “a score to settle.” Davenport said it’s unclear who Scott was referring to, but in addition to leaving his child alone, he left behind a note. “He did leave behind a suicide note that’s pretty clear that he did not intend to return to the house ever,” Davenport said. “In that note, he did not reveal anything as far as what his intentions were.”
Sergeant Zeimet was treated at a local hospital and released a short time after the shootout.
FULL PRESS RELEASE FROM IOWA DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY:
On April 1, 2014, shortly before 3:00 a.m., Sgt. Brendan Zeimet was ending his shift by filling his squad car up with gas at the city lot. He observed a 2005 Dodge Ram pickup truck parked on the wrong side of the road in the 200 block of West Grove Street, with its lights off and one occupant. Sgt. Zeimet called in the location and the plate number prior to stopping in front of the truck to conduct a welfare check on the driver who has been identified as Aaron Edward Scott.
Upon exiting his squad car Sgt. Zeimet made verbal contact with Scott and observed him to be intoxicated. Scott mumbled something inaudible as Sgt. Zeimet came to the driver side of the truck and said “Get out of here.” Sgt. Zeimet observed an assault weapon in Scott’s hand. Sgt. Zeimet ordered Scott to put down his weapon as he quickly backed up seeking cover. Scott started to raise the assault rifle and a gunfight ensued.
Sgt. Zeimet was hit once in his left forearm and one of his bullets made contact with Scott’s left leg. Neither injury was life threatening. Sgt. Zeimet discharged his service weapon 7 times. Scott discharged his SKS assault weapon at least 14 times and as many as 19 times. DCI investigators found shell casings at the scene as well as in the pickup truck that was searched pursuant to a valid search warrant. Scott fired at least 7 of these shots penetrating his own truck door. Sgt. Zeimet’s squad car suffered 5 or 6 direct hits and was disabled. The in-car camera did capture the shooting.
Scott fled the scene and was located a short time later in Clinton County just north of Highway 136 on 150th Avenue. The truck had rolled with Scott inside. The autopsy conducted by the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner revealed that Scott died as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The investigation revealed that an hour before the shooting Scott had some sort of falling out with the girl he had been seeing. Scott then called his estranged wife and told her that she needed to get to the house to take care of their son as he had a score to settle. When she arrived at the house Scott was already gone, having left the child home alone. She also observed a number of ammo boxes and discovered a suicide note. The investigation further revealed that in addition to the SKS assault rifle, Scott had a second rifle, a shotgun, and a handgun with him. A large amount of ammunition was also discovered in his truck and in his pocket. Further investigation revealed that Scott had a history of mental health and alcohol abuse issues.
It is the conclusion of the Jackson County Attorney’s Office, after reviewing the investigation, that Sgt. Zeimet’s use of deadly force was justified and reasonable.