Police: Seven of 10 Police Calls Came After North Liberty Suspect Moved In

By Vanessa Miller, Reporter

Photo from University of Iowa website

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By Ellen Kurt

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa - Of the 10 police calls for service to the mobile home unit where a 28-year-old man died last week in a shootout with officers, seven came after he started living in the home earlier this year.

A representative for the limited liability company that owns the unit at 238 Holiday Lodge Road in the Holiday Mobile Home Court in North Liberty told The Gazette that Taleb Salameh was living there for a couple months before his death.

Interim North Liberty Police Chief Diane Venenga said Wednesday that of the 10 calls for service to the unit between January 2012 and March 10 -- when Salameh died in the shooting -- seven occurred after Jan. 1, 2013, around the time he moved in.

Details about the calls for service have not been made public because they are part of the investigation into what happened March 10 when Salameh died and three North Liberty officers were injured in a shooting about 6 p.m. at the mobile home.

More records are expected to be released after the Johnson County Attorney's Office makes a charging decisions in the case. That is not expected to happen this week.

On March 10, North Liberty police responded to the mobile home unit at 238 Holiday Lodge Road in the Holiday Mobile Home Court in response to a 911 domestic disturbance call. Iowa City police, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, and other agencies were called to assist.

Iowa City police records indicate that a neighbor told officers that she had seen a man jumping on the hood of a woman’s car during an argument about his daughter. The neighbor reported seeing the woman involved driving away in a red Chevrolet Cavalier, headed out of the Holiday Mobile Home Court, according to police.

Officers arrived a short time later – just before 6 p.m. Sunday – and contacted the woman and a man later identified as Taleb Salameh, according to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. Soon after their arrival, officers exchanged gunfire with Salameh, leaving him dead at the scene, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Three officers were struck by bullets and taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where they were treated and released for non-life threatening injuries.

The woman at the scene wasn’t injured, and no one else was home at the time, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Because the investigation is ongoing, details of who fired a weapon and how the incident escalated have not been made public. Names of the officers involved are being withheld until the County Attorney’s Office makes a charging decision. They are on paid administrative leave.

The mobile home park is owned by a corporation – Holiday Mobile Lodge Inc., according to online property records. Each mobile home unit is considered a motor vehicle and therefore owners have to register with the county treasurer’s office instead of the assessor’s office.

The mobile home unit that Salemeh was living in is owned by a limited liability company. A representative with the ownership group told The Gazette on Tuesday that Salameh had only been living there for a couple months.

A woman who appears to be Salameh’s mother owns a unit in the mobile home park at 56 Holiday Lodge Road, according to the Treasurer’s Office.

Salameh was born and raised in Iowa City and earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Iowa, where he was working toward his master’s degree in the field at the time of his death.

He is survived by his parents, two sisters, a brother and a daughter, according to his obituary. More than 70 people have written memories and condolences on the funeral home’s website.

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 was never 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. Johnson County Sheriff Lonny 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.
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