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WATCH NOW: BB gun recovered at scene of officer-involved shooting
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WATERLOO – Authorities have recovered what appears to be a BB gun that looks like a real rifle at the scene of the officer-involved shooting early Wednesday.

The shooting injured a man who was carrying what appeared to be a long gun that he aimed at Black Hawk County sheriff’s deputies and began chasing them.

Waterloo Police and the Sheriff’s Office declined to comment about the suspect’s weapon and referred questions to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, which is handling the probe. The DCI involvement is standard procedure for officer-involved shootings.

Photos from the scene show what appears to be a lever-action rifle on the sidewalk with the words “Red Ryder” scrawled on the stock next to a disposable lighter, a wallet and a folding knife. Red Ryder is a popular BB gun band.

Photos from the scene also show a bullet hole in the windshield of a Waterloo Police Department squad car. Police declined to comment about the bullet hole.

According to police, a passerby called to a report of a man with what appeared to be a rifle walking in the area of Commercial and West 11th streets heading toward downtown around 12:45 a.m.

Officers with the Waterloo Police Department and deputies with the Black Hawk Sheriff’s Office responded, according to officials.

Two deputies found the suspect a few blocks away in the area of Commercial and West Sixth, near the foot of the West Sixth Street Bridge.

As they made contact with the man, he pointed the weapon at one deputy at hip level and chased after the deputy. A responding Waterloo police officer observed what was occurring and fired his patrol rifle at the male, striking him twice.

Paramedics with Waterloo Fire Rescue took the suspect to UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital, and he was then flown to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City for further treatment.

Authorities said he is expected to survive.

The deputies and officers weren’t injured.

PHOTOS: Officer-involved shooting, Waterloo, April 7, 2021

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Ironman Battalion returns home to Waterloo

WATERLOO — Hundreds gathered behind a fence at the Waterloo Regional Airport on Wednesday afternoon, holding up signs to welcome home about 100 Iowa Army National Guard soldiers before hugging and kissing them minutes later.

The soldiers from Charlie Company, part of the 1st Battalion of the 133rd Infantry Regiment — the Ironman Battalion — departed the plane and lined up on the tarmac to whistles and cheers for a socially distanced crowd at the homecoming ceremony.

“We could not be more proud,” said Brig. Gen. Steve Kremer. “You’ve continued to live up to the proud traditions of the Ironman Battalion. I want to say thank you for your sacrifice.”

Such a ceremony would normally be held inside a place like the UNI-Dome, where the battalion was welcomed back in 2011. COVID-19 changed those plans in more ways than one.

“You’ve missed your family, you’ve missed your friends, you’ve missed your gatherings. Although, we’ve probably had a lot (fewer) gatherings this past year, under the current pandemic,” Kremer said.

Once the ceremony was over, soldiers grabbed their bags and headed past the fence gates into the waiting arms of their cheering and crying family members.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Staff Sgt. Dane McDonald of Bondurant said of being back in Iowa. “This is my first homecoming where I actually have people to receive me, so that’s pretty nice.”

The soldiers had been deployed since May — more than 10 months — to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, providing security for a field artillery unit that operated a high-mobility artillery rocket system, known as HIMARS.

A total of 620 soldiers from that battalion are returning over the next week and a half after their fifth deployment since 2000, according to the Guard.

Lt. Paul Merrick of Ankeny wasn’t sure if the youngest of his three sons — Liam, 2 — would remember him. But once he picked Liam up, the toddler refused to let his father put him down again.

“He’s been hugging Dad for what seems like an hour,” said Merrick’s oldest, Oliver, 8.

And what did Oliver think of finally seeing his father? “I’m about to cry,” he said.

It was Merrick’s second deployment; his first was to Afghanistan more than a decade ago, before the three boys were born.

“We were able to talk every day I was over there, but that kind of makes it harder in a way, because you know what you’re missing out on,” Merrick said. “I’m just looking forward to spending time with them again.”

Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green and Waverly Mayor Adam Hoffman, as well as representatives from the offices of U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, were also on hand for the ceremony.

Kremer said he was glad the predicted rain stayed away — and that he kept his speech short.

“We’ve all sat through speeches, and it’s really great to have people come out and say thank you,” Kremer said after the ceremony. “But if you’re in that group, if you’re out there in formation, you’re looking right beyond and you’re going, ‘There’s my wife, there’s my kids, there’s my parents, and that’s all I want to do is get out there.’”

Another 150 Ironman Battalion soldiers from the Headquarters Company will be welcomed home at the airport Tuesday. The exact time of their homecoming was not set as of Wednesday.

Reynolds calls for ban of vaccine passports
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JOHNSTON — Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday that she wants legislation that would prohibit so-called vaccine passports in Iowa, citing her concern for potential action from the federal government.

But just a day earlier, the White House said there will be no federal vaccine passport.

During her weekly press conference Wednesday at Iowa PBS studios, Reynolds expressed her staunch opposition to vaccine passports. Although Reynolds was vague about what kind of prohibition she seeks, vaccine passports generally speaking are documents that prove an individual has received the COVID-19 vaccine, thus enabling the person to, for example, fly on an airplane or attend a concert or sporting event.

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“Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve consistently put my trust in Iowans to do the right thing rather than demand or mandate it. And vaccination is no different,” Reynolds said. “While I believe in the efficacy of the vaccine enough to get it myself and encourage Iowans to do the same, I also respect that it’s a personal choice. But I strongly oppose vaccine passports and I believe that we must take a stand as a state against them, which I intend to do.”

Reynolds said she will work with state lawmakers on passing a law, and if that is unsuccessful, she will issue an executive order.

Reynolds said she wants a provision in place “based on what they would do at the federal level.” But during a press briefing Tuesday at the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki ruled out a federal vaccine passport requirement.

Covid-19 vaccination info

“Let me be very clear on this — I know there’s been lots of questions: The government is not now, nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential,” Psaki said. “There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”

Reynolds cited privacy concerns for her opposition to vaccine passports.

“I think there’s all kinds of questions that are raised with moving in that direction: privacy implications, (medical privacy), First and Fourth Amendment rights, Americans with disabilities. And I think what you’re doing when you move forward with something like that is you’re creating a two-tiered society, and you are either engaged or you’re marginalized,” Reynolds said.

Psaki said the discussion essentially started in the private sector, and she expects it to end there. She said the federal government will at some point provide public health guidance.

“There is a movement, as you know, in the private sector to identify ways that they can return to events where there are large swaths of people safely in soccer stadiums or theaters. That’s where the idea originated, and we expect that’s where it will be concluded,” Psaki said. “We will be providing some guidance … that provides important answers to questions that Americans have, in particular around concerns about privacy, security, or discrimination, soon.”