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NEWS 9.7.22: New Details Surrounding Drive-By Shootings, COVID-19 Update, and Home Values Rise in Iowa, and More

Sioux City Police released more information today surrounding yesterday’s drive-by shootings involving an airsoft-type gun at North Middle school and other locations. Two teens, ages 14 and 16, face multiple counts of assault and were being held in Juvenile Detention as of last night. Authorities are not sure if they have been released to their parents yet.

Today, spokesperson Sgt. Jeremy McClure says the teens used a SplatRBall gun shaped like a real firearm. They are usually bright in color, but the suspects painted theirs black. The bb’s were soaked in water which caused them to expand to about the size of an airsoft bb. The gun yesterday was fully automatic and fired several hundred rounds a minute.

Sioux City Police Department did clarify the timeline a few hours after the incident. The school district alerted parents around 3 p.m. Police say it happened about 1:15 p.m. as a group of sixth-grade PE students were walking back from a nearby track to North Middle.

After the shooting, the school district issued a lockout for all elementary school buildings. McClure says additional officers were sent to North High and North Middle Schools during dismissal time as a precaution. School resource officers were immediately notified and quickly located the suspects. McClure credits their knowledge of the students to quickly getting the situation under control. One is believed to attend North High, the other East Middle School.

Officers say the teens also shot another high school student and a delivery driver in the area of Glenn Oaks and Indian Hills Boulevard. The names of the suspects are not being released at this time since they are minors.

County Attorney P.J. Jennings says because the suspects are juveniles, he is prohibited from discussing anything about the case unless they are prosecuted as adults.

The Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a deadly crash that happened yesterday afternoon between Moville and Correctionville. A vehicle turned onto Highway 20 from Lee Avenue and was hit by another vehicle. The driver of the first car suffered life-threatening injuries and was pronounced dead at MercyOne. The passenger was seriously hurt and flown to the hospital. First responders had to extract them from the vehicle. Two people in the other vehicle ended up with minor injuries.

News release from the Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office:

On September 6, 2022, at approximately 4:15 pm Deputies and EMS responded to the area of Highway 20 and Lee Avenue for a traffic accident. Preliminary investigation shows one vehicle entered onto Highway 20 traveling south bound from Lee Avenue and was struck by a vehicle traveling west bound on Highway 20.

The two occupants of the south bound vehicle, had to be extracted. The passenger sustained serious injuries and was transported to Mercy One by helicopter. The driver suffered life threatening injuries and was pronounced deceased at Mercy One.

The two occupants of the west bound vehicle sustained minor injuries and transported themselves to the hospital.

The accident is still under investigation and no further details will be released at this time.

An Iowa judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging Open Records Law violations by State Auditor Rob Sand.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports the court concluded the emails that a conservative law firm had sought to obtain “were properly maintained as confidential and withheld” from disclosure. The court granted Sand’s request for summary judgment, dismissing the case.

The emails in question were requested last year by the Kirkwood Institute, a self-described “conservative public-interest law firm.” The Kirkwood Institute acknowledged it requested the emails as part of its own investigation into what it called “the potential political overtones” of Sand’s 2021 report on Gov. Kim Reynolds’ appearance in public-service announcements about COVID-19.

Sand’s June 2021 report on Reynolds’ media campaign alleged that because the governor appeared in taxpayer-funded videos, the campaign violated a state law that generally prohibits the expenditure of public money to disseminate the likeness of a statewide elected official.

The law, however, includes an exemption for expenditures related to the use of emergency powers, and the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board later concluded Sand’s concerns lacked any merit.

State officials are reporting a drop in the number of reported positive COVID-19 tests in the past week.

Iowa health officials say more than 52 hundred positive tests have been reported in the past seven days. That’s a significant drop from last week’s count of more than six thousand.

However, the Sioux City Journal reports, that Woodbury County's COVID-19 transmission rose to the medium level; and the number of tests coming back positive for the virus remained steady.

Federal Health and Human Services officials report 270 Iowans hospitalized have tested positive for the virus - a slight uptick from last week’s count of 265.

State officials have confirmed an additional 28 deaths associated with COVID this week. Iowa’s total death count is at more than 99 hundred.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 63 percent of all Iowans are fully vaccinated against the virus.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Nebraska ticked up last week with more than 2,900 new cases, but the weekly total remained relatively unchanged from levels seen throughout the summer.

Still, Nebraska figures show the start of the school year to date has produced no sizable spike in cases. But official numbers are likely undercounted due to home testing.

Hospitalizations have been gradually trending downward in Nebraska for the past month.

The CDC added no new deaths to Nebraska’s total last week. In all, the state has recorded 4,455 confirmed or probable deaths and more than 530,000 cases during the 2½-year pandemic. More information from the Omaha World-Herald can be found here.

Michigan-based Trinity Health completed its acquisition of the Iowa-based MercyOne medical system on September 1st.

MercyOne’s CEO Bob Ritz says patients across Iowa won’t notice any immediate change as the early transition involves business systems. For more information check out the full story from Radio Iowa.

An Iowa judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging Open Records Law violations by State Auditor Rob Sand.

The court concluded the emails that a conservative law firm had sought to obtain “were properly maintained as confidential and withheld” from disclosure. The court granted Sand’s request for summary judgment, dismissing the case.

The statewide median home sale price in July was nearly $240,000, a record high.

Iowa Association of Realtors data shows just over 3700 homes were sold in the state in July. That’s a nearly 29% drop in sales volume compared to the same month last year. There also was a 22% drop in the number of Iowa homes listed for sale in July.

Radio Iowa reports those trends fueled the record median price for an Iowa home sold in July. It was up 17% compared to July of 2021. The Realtors’ report indicates Iowa homes are selling quickly — averaging just 24 days on the market in July — and that’s 20% faster than July of last year. However, the president of the Iowa Association of Realtors says the housing market is cooling off, as home prices and mortgage rates rise.

Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz will become Iowa’s deputy athletic director and chief operating officer. Iowa athletic director Gary Barta announced Goez would replace Barbara Burke, who will retire next spring. Goetz became Ball State athletic director in 2018 and oversaw a 19-sport program. Goetz chairs the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee and was named 2022 NCAA Division I FBS Nike Executive of the Year by Women Leaders in College Sports.