OTTUMWA, Iowa — A review of the shootout and manhunt on Aug. 3 has concluded police were justified in their decision to return gunfire near Liberty Elementary School in Ottumwa.
The report, released Saturday by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation on behalf of County Attorney Gary Oldenburger, says the police response was “absolutely necessary to eliminate the threat the subjects posed to them, their fellow officers, students and staff in the school, and residents in the surrounding neighborhood.”
Oldenburger’s review also clarifies the timeline of events. The first 911 call came in at 1:42 p.m. to report a shooting in the 800 block of South Lillian Street. Additional calls then reported three men “dressed in dark clothing, wearing masks and armed with rifles.” The men, later identified as David White, Michael Bibby and Dalton Cook.
When police reached Liberty Elementary and spotted the men, they ordered them to stop and drop their guns. Instead, they fired on police. Oldenburger identified Bibby as the one who shot out a window of the vehicle driven by Police Chief Tom McAndrew, and said the shots were fired using “an AR-15 style rifle.”
The men retreated into tall grass and a soybean field. Cook kept going, but Bibby and White continued to exchange shots with police.
“The subjects frequently moved to different locations within the grassy area and the soybean field. Each time the subjects fired at officers, the officers would return fire,” Oldenburger wrote.
White was apparently hit first by the police gunfire. Bibby continued shooting until he was hit as well. White died, Bibby survived. It has not been determined which of the five officers involved in the shootout hit either man.
Oldenburger’s report legally clears the police involved.
“In fact, if the responding officers had not acted in the manner in which they did, it would have been a gross dereliction of their duty as sworn peace officers to serve and protect our community,” Oldenburger concluded. “Having acted in a legally justified manner, none of the officers involved are subject to any criminal charges or liability related to this incident.”