Fight Over Daughter Preceded Fatal North Liberty Shootout

By Vanessa Miller, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa - When Iowa City police were called to assist North Liberty officers in what became a fatal shooting, they were told it was in reference to a domestic argument over a child.

Information reported on the Iowa City Police Department's daily activity log indicates that Iowa City officers were called at 6:01 p.m. Sunday to 238 Holiday Lodge Road after a neighbor reported a disturbance there.

The neighbor, according to the log, said a man was jumping on the hood of a female's car, and the female had driven away in a red Chevy Cavalier – headed out of the Holiday Mobile Home Court in North Liberty.

The neighbor told police that the man went back inside the mobile unit, adding that she had heard him yelling earlier at the woman about where their daughter was, according to the log.

At the time of the report, the neighbor said the male was getting into a red Chevy V71.

Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek previously reported that North Liberty officers responded to the mobile home at 5:51 p.m. Sunday following a 911 call about a domestic disturbance. Officers arrived within minutes of the call and contacted a woman on scene and Taleb Salameh, 28.

Soon after their arrival, officers exchanged gunshots with Salameh, leaving him dead at the scene. Three officers were struck by gunfire and taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where they were treated and released for non-life threatening injuries, according to Pulkrabek.

The female victim at the scene was not injured in the gunfire exchange, and no one else was home at the time of the shooting, Pulkrabek said.

The names of the officers are being withheld pending an investigation of the incident. They are on paid administrative leave, Pulkrabek said.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Johnson County Sheriff's Office are handling the investigation, and the Iowa City Police Department is assisting by processing the crime scene.

Salameh, at the time of his death, was a UI graduate research assistant in mechanical engineering. He began at the UI in 2005 and graduated with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and German in 2009, according to UI spokesman Tom Moore.

He when he went on to begin his graduate schooling that same year, and was currently enrolled as a full-time student, Moore said.

In an online profile for the Global Illumination Council, Salameh states that he was born and raised in Iowa City and has a "beautiful seven month old daughter."

A Facebook profile apparently belonging to him shows him on vacation with family and on a study abroad trip to Germany. He also has one photo of woman holding a baby girl.

Salameh applied for a permit to acquire a weapon from the Johnson County Sheriff's Office in February 2010. UI officials, at that time, expressed concern about him possessing a weapon, and they advised the Sheriff's Office to hold off on issuing him one.

Pulkrabek said his office requested a letter from a counselor Salameh was seeing advising it was OK for him to have a gun. The counselor providing that letter, and the sheriff signed off on Salameh's permit in June 2010.

In the letter to the Sheriff's Office, Salameh's counselor – who he was seeing for depression and anxiety – said Salameh's mood had improved and he saw no reason he should not be allowed to own firearms.

He said Salameh wanted the gun because he was interested in going hunting with friends.

Permits to acquire are "shall issue," meaning sheriffs have little discretion in their approval.

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.
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