Officials name the Iowa State Patrol trooper killed during standoff

Published: Apr. 10, 2021 at 2:39 PM CDT
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GRUNDY CENTER, Iowa (KCRG) - Officials say Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Jim Smith was killed during a standoff with a suspect in Grundy Center on Friday night.

Michael Thomas Lang, 41, of Grundy Center, has been charged with one count of 1st Degree Murder and being held on a $1 million cash bond.

During a press conference on Saturday, officials with the Iowa Department of Public Safety said the incident began at approximately 7:22 P.M. when the Grundy Center Police Department attempted to conduct a traffic stop on Lang. Authorities say Lang fled from police and was chased to an area southeast of town.

Police say Lang later pulled over, exited his vehicle, and assaulted the Grundy Center Police Officer that was chasing him. During the assault, Lang yelled “Shoot me!” multiple times at the officer and was able to disarm the officer of his taser and radio and put the officer in a chokehold, according to officials.

A Grundy County deputy arrived on the scene and witnessed the Grundy Center Police officer recovering from the assault and Lang in the area of the officer’s patrol vehicle. The deputy drew his weapon and gave commands to Lang to put his hands up. Officials say Lang did not comply, yelled “Come get me!,” got back in his vehicle, and fled the area. The deputy pursued Lang back to Grundy Center, but lost sight of him, officials said.

The deputy then went to Lang’s residence, located at 305 G Avenue, where he noticed Lang’s vehicle parked and Lang entering the home. Other law enforcement officers responded and arrived at the residence and set up a perimeter around the home. Lang’s father arrived at the house and told police that Lang had multiple firearms inside the residence.

At approximately 8:55 P.M., Sgt. Smith, three additional Iowa State Patrol troopers and a Hardin County Sheriff’s Deputy K9 unit entered Lang’s home. As those officers began to clear the upstairs area of the residence, Sgt. Smith was hit by gunfire from inside the home. After Sgt. Smith was shot, the other officers saw Lang emerge from the doorway holding a black pump action shotgun. Two of the officers retreated into the basement while other officers pulled Sgt. Smith from the home.

Police say Lang then barricaded himself inside the residence and refused to come out. The officers in the basement said that Lang made several statements about having shot Sgt. Smith and expressing the desire to shoot more police officers. Lang remained barricaded inside the home for several hours.

At approximately 11:50 P.M., an Iowa State Patrol tactical team attempted to enter the home with an armored personnel carrier. During their entry, police say Lang shot multiple rounds at the personnel carrier. Three members of the tactical team returned gunfire, striking Lang multiple times. Lang was then taken into custody by the Iowa State Patrol.

Sgt. Smith was immediately transported to Grundy County Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead from a single gunshot wound. Officials say Sgt. Smith was a 27-year-veteran of the Patrol and the 11th Iowa State Patrol Officer to be killed in the line of duty.

Lang was transported to the University of Iowa Hospital, where he underwent surgery for multiple gunshot wounds and is currently listed in critical condition.

Officials said no other officers were injured during the standoff and that the investigation is still ongoing.

Officials were able to confirm to KCRG-TV9 that Lang ran unsuccessfully for Grundy County Sheriff as a Democrat in 2020. According to The Grundy Register, Lang only received just received 22.3%. of the votes cast.

The Grundy Register also reports that Land has a long list of previous criminal convictions and was twice charged with a felony-once for third offense OWI in 2009 and once for Third Degree Burglary in 1999-but on both occasions, he pled down to aggravated misdemeanor adjudications.

At Saturday’s press conference, officials said they do not know at this time how many weapons Lang possessed or how he obtained them.

Governor Kim Reynolds issued the following statement in response to Sgt. Smith’s death:

It’s with deep sorrow that we recognize the loss of Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Jim Smith, a courageous hero who died in the line of duty. Sgt. Jim Smith was a loving husband, father of two, and a pillar of the community. I along with the entire state of Iowa grieve for his family and friends as they try to cope with this devastating loss. Today we are once again reminded of the selfless sacrifices the brave men and women in uniform make. Let us never forget their bravery and that of their loved ones.

Governor Reynolds will order all flags in Iowa to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on the day of interment in honor and remembrance of Sgt. Smith. Details will be forthcoming.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller released the following statement on Sgt. Smith’s death:

I was saddened to learn of the death of Sgt. Jim Smith. He was a dedicated public servant and courageous law enforcement officer. My heart goes out to his family and friends, as well as to his colleagues on the Iowa State Patrol.

The criminal case will be prosecuted jointly by the Attorney General’s Office and the Grundy County Attorney’s Office.

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