Family of Man Killed in North Liberty Shooting Mourns 'Theft of His Life'
By Vanessa Miller, Reporter
NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa -A University of Iowa graduate student killed in a shootout with North Liberty police on Sunday is described by his family as a man who loved life, family and "acted with passion in his beliefs."
In an online post mourning Taleb Salameh's death, his sister wrote, "There are no words that could truly express the amount of sorrow and devastation felt by the theft of his life."
According to Taleb Hussein Yousef Salameh's obituary, "He was extremely gifted with knowledge and was like a sponge soaking up more and more. It would be hard to find someone that was more animate as an activist about civil and human rights."
The obituary says that Salameh, 28, was born in December 1984 at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and went through school in the Iowa City Community School District, according to the family. He attended Kirkwood Community College and went on to earn an undergraduate degree from the UI.
He was in the process of getting a master's degree in mechanical engineering when he died Sunday. Few details have been released about how Salameh died, but the shooting occurred after police were called to his mobile home at 238 Holiday Lodge Road in North Liberty in response to a 911 domestic disturbance call.
According to police, a neighbor reported seeing a man jumping on the hood of a woman's car during an argument about his daughter. The woman reported that the woman drove away in a red Chevy Cavalier, headed out of the Holiday Mobile Home Court, according to police.
Officers arrived shortly after the 911 call – just before 6 p.m. Sunday – and contacted the woman and Salameh, according to Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek.
Soon after their arrival, officers exchanged gunshots with Salameh, leaving him dead at the scene, according to Pulkrabek. Three officers were struck by gunfire and taken to the UIHC, where they were treated and released for non-life threatening injuries.
The woman at the scene was not injured, and no one else was home at the time, Pulkrabek said. The investigation is ongoing, and the names of the officers are being withheld until the Johnson County Attorney's Office decides whether charges should be filed.
They are on paid administrative leave.
According to Salemeh's obituary, he was survived by a daughter, his mother and father, two sisters, a brother and his grandparents.
His family said he played soccer for 18 years and was interested in dirt bikes, four wheelers, motorcycles and cars.
"He could figure out, fix it and move on to the next challenge with anything mechanical," the obituary states. "But most of all, he was a man that loved his family, believed in his family and was there for anyone of them anytime."
The family wrote that Salemeh always looked forward to their Sunday evening dinners at his mother's house.
Aisha Salameh, who says she's Salameh's sister, wrote on her Facebook page on Wednesday about the heartbreak of losing her "best friend."
"The shock of his passing has been the hardest thing my family and I have ever suffered," she said.
Aisha Salameh wrote that anyone who knew her, also knew her brother.
"He has always been by my side, my friend, my protector, my constant," she wrote. "He is a great loving man, brother, friend and father ... He would do anything for what he believed and for the people he loved."
She thanked friends for helping the family celebrate Salameh's life and for sharing stories about "his amazing character and integrity."
A web search for Salameh revealed his involvement in UI graduate projects and honors he's received – including a scholarship in 2007.
Salameh's criminal history in Iowa includes numerous convictions for driving and alcohol offenses, theft and trespassing. He was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of public intoxication and assault causing injury.
Salameh has never been convicted of a felony, but a Johnson County judge in February issued a temporary protective order against Salameh. The petition eventually was dismissed.
When Salameh applied for a permit to acquire a weapon in 2010, UI officials expressed concern to the Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Pulkrabek said he issued Salameh a permit only after receiving a letter from the student's therapist saying it was OK for him to own a weapon.
In the letter from Salameh's therapist, who he was seeing for depression and anxiety, the therapist said Salameh wanted a gun to go hunting with friends.