Inmate, deputy identified in Fayette County hospital shooting

By Lee Hermiston, The Gazette

WEST UNION — The Fayette County inmate who shot and killed himself at a hospital this weekend has been identified.

According to a release from the Iowa Department of Public Safety, 32-year-old Steven Harreld took Fayette County deputy Jeremy Stiefel’s gun on Aug. 23 during a struggle and shot himself.

Authorities said Stiefel was with Harreld at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 23 at Palmer Lutheran Hospital in West Union. Harreld had been admitted to the hospital the day before for a medical issue, police said.

While getting Harreld ready to leave the hospital and return to the jail, Stiefel uncuffed Harreld to allow him to change back into his jail clothes. Authorities said when the deputy released Harreld’s leg cuffs, the man attacked the deputy.

Harreld was able to get Stiefel’s sidearm and held him at gunpoint. Authorities said Harreld ordered Stiefel to release him from his hand and leg cuffs. While searching for the handcuff key, the deputy went for his electronic control device, also known as a stun gun. At this point, Harreld shot Stiefel, authorities said. Stiefel was wearing a ballistic vest.

Stiefel was able to stun Harreld with his electronic control device. Harreld then turned the deputy’s sidearm on himself. Emergency Medical Technicians responded, but Harreld was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said. Stiefel was treated and released at the hospital. He has been a jailer with the county for 2 1/2 years and was a reserve deputy for a year and a half, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Harreld had been incarcerated since Aug. 20, after he had been arrested for allegedly breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s home on Aug. 19. He was facing one count of trespass, a simple misdemeanor, according to online court records.

In a statement, Harreld’s family said Harreld suffered from bipolar disorder, depression and substance abuse and that jails, courts and law enforcement are “often unequipped to offer property support and treatment to those experiencing mental health crises.”

“The family of Steven James Harreld is deeply saddened by the loss of our precious Steven and sincerely grateful that no one else was injured,” the statement read. “Steven was an incredible young man. His years of suffering to understand himself and the way he fit into the world around him prevented him from realizing how incredible he truly was.”

Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation spokesman Alex Murphy said Stiefel is on paid administrative leave while the shooting is being investigated. Murphy said the DCI’s investigation is ongoing.

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