March 24, 2008 12:43 PM (Updated)
UI cancels Hawk Alert following Iowa City incident
The University of Iowa has cancelled an alert it sent through its emergency notification system to UI faculty, staff and students Monday morning after a report of a shooting on Iowa City's east side.
Iowa City Police report that the suspect, who according to local news reports killed his wife and four children, is believed to have died when the van he was driving crashed on Interstate 80 and burst into flames.
UI Police say they issued the Hawk Alert, which was also posted to the UI homepage, as a precaution until they received assurances from city police that the suspect no longer posed a threat. Although investigators say the fire is making positive identification of the van's occupant difficult, the vehicle matches the description given earlier Monday for a van owned by the suspect.
The Hawk Alert message issued Monday notified the campus community that an "active shooter" was in the Iowa City area. The suspect was described as a white male in his mid 40s driving a tan 1998 Toyota Sienna minivan, and Hawk Alert recipients were encouraged to call 911 from a safe location if they spotted the vehicle.
"We don't believe there was an immediate threat to the campus, but we'd rather err on the side of caution when something like this happens," Charles Green, director of the UI Department of Public Safety, said.
In a news release updated just before 10 a.m. Monday on the City of Iowa City Web site, Iowa City police said that someone called 911 on a cell phone at 6:31 a.m. and reported that police needed to respond immediately to 629 Barrington Road on Iowa City's east side. The person hung up and dispatchers were unable to make contact with the caller on call-back.
The release further says:
"Responding officers found the house unlocked. Officers made entry out of concern for the safety of the occupants. Officers located five deceased persons, the adult female resident and four children. Officers did not locate the adult male resident, Steven Sueppel. One of the family's vehicles, a tan Toyota Sienna minivan, Iowa license 501BLO, was missing.
"ICPD notified area law enforcement agencies and the University of Iowa issued a Hawk Alert.
"There has also been a single vehicle motor vehicle fatality crash on I-80. The vehicle involved is possibly the missing van; however, the vehicle was involved in an extensive fire which is hindering positive identification of the vehicle and occupant.”
The release said that the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation and the FBI are assisting the ICPD with the investigation.
The Iowa City Police Department news release may be found at http://www.icgov.org/default/apps/GEN/news.asp?newsID=3855&page=1.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Charles Green, UI Police, 319-335-5026, firstname.lastname@example.org; Steve Parrott, University Relations, 319-335-0552 (office), 319-530-6972 (cell), email@example.com; Writer: Stephen Pradarelli, University News Services.