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Charles City man faces eluding, drug charges after high-speed chase in Mason City

MASON CITY | A Charles City man has been arrested after a high-speed chase early Wednesday in Mason City, police say.

The Mason City Police Department said in a news release an officer attempted to stop a 1993 Oldsmobile Cutlass around 3:48 a.m. for speeding and a stop sign violation near Highway 122 and South Pennsylvania Avenue.

Police say the driver, Andrew Kroeze, 22, Charles City, refused to stop and accelerated eastbound on Highway 122.

Kroeze went a short distance outside city limits, turned around and then drove back into Mason City at a high rate of speed, according to police, who said they were unable to use stop sticks due to high speeds and directional changes. Speeds during the pursuit exceeded 100 mph, court documents say. 

Kroeze then continued eastbound into Mason City on Highway 122 at a high rate of speed. A Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s deputy intentionally struck Kroeze’s vehicle near Highway 122 and Illinois, disabling both vehicles and ending the pursuit.

Police say there were no injuries and no property damage, other than the two vehicles that collided. The Iowa State Patrol is conducting the collision investigation.

Kroeze was arrested at the scene for:

• Felony eluding.

• Misdemeanor escape from custody in Webster County.

• Parole and probation revocation/violation.

He has also been charged with misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia, as well as felony possess and convey contraband into a correctional facility.

During the booking process and vehicle impound and tow, officers say they found additional contraband.

Kroeze had meth hidden on his person that he tried to conceal, displace, or discard at the Cerro Gordo County Jail, according to police. Court documents say he attempted to conceal the drugs by clenching his fists. 

He is being held without bond. 


Crime-and-courts
topical featured
Charles City homicide trial: Williams, Fleming were like brothers, defense attorney says (with 911 audio)

Editor’s note: The recording of the 911 call contains language some readers may find offensive.

CHARLES CITY | Antoine Williams and Nathaniel Fleming were like brothers, but a fight between the two led to a fatal shooting, a defense attorney said during opening statements Wednesday.

Williams, 36, a Chicago native, is accused of first-degree murder in the death of Nathaniel Fleming, 36, last known address Mason City, on June 30. 

Police say Williams shot Fleming multiple times during an argument around 10 p.m. near the Casa Apartments on Clarkview Drive and then fled the scene.


911 calls reporting Charles City shooting June 30, 2017

Steven Kloberdanz, Williams’ court-appointed defense attorney, described a series of events to a Floyd County jury, claiming Fleming was angry at Williams that day.

Fleming was intoxicated, Kloberdanz said, and believed Williams was “in cahoots” with some people who had assaulted him.  

Fleming then left the apartment complex, allegedly telling Williams he “better not be here when I come back,” Kloberdanz said.

Kloberdanz claimed Fleming had a “Napoleonic or Chihuahua complex” because he was small in stature.

“He often bragged about having guns,” Kloberdanz said. ”Makes up for his small size by talking tough.”

Upon returning, Fleming pulled his car up near the complex’s dumpsters and backed in. Kloberdanz said Williams went out to talk to Fleming, who was still upset.

“The more he tried to talk him down, the angrier he got,” Kloberdanz said.

Kloberdanz claimed Fleming reached for a gun and then Williams — acting in self-defense — shot him.

“To Antoine Williams, it was either shoot or be shot,” Kloberdanz said.

Chris Zoeller / CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette 

Antoine Tyree Williams, right, listens as his defense attorney Nellie O'Mara questions potential jurors Tuesday during jury selection for his trial at the Floyd County Courthouse in Charles City. Williams is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Nathaniel Fleming in Charles City on June 30.

Prior to the argument, Kloberdanz said the two had a close relationship.

“Antoine Williams is the kind of man who treated Mr. Fleming so well that many people thought they were brothers,” Kloberdanz said.

Later in the testimony, bodycam footage from Charles City Police Officer Leonard Luft showed a man talking with police saying the shooter was “supposed to be his brother.”

That statement was repeated in a 911 call played for jurors, in which at least three people reported the shooting.

The first caller, a man who doesn’t identify himself, tells dispatcher Heather Johlas “somebody’s been shot and carjacked.” The call was reported at 9:46 p.m. 

Johlas then asks the man how he knows someone has been shot and carjacked.

“’Cause I heard the gunshots, and he’s laying right here by the garbage dumpster, and they took off in his truck, I seen it,” the caller says.

“Did you see who took the truck?” the dispatcher asks.

“Yes, I did, it’s supposed to be his brother,” the caller replies, but doesn’t supply the name of who supposedly took the vehicle.

He then asks the dispatcher to “hurry up, (because) the man might die” and says the person — who he says he doesn’t know — has been shot three times.

The third caller, a woman who doesn’t identify herself, tells Johlas she heard gunshots. Judge Rustin Davenport asked the jury to disregard the female caller, as she couldn't be identified. 

Luft, who was the first officer to respond to the scene, testified he had driven his patrol vehicle by the complex one to two hours before the shooting. 

While near the complex, Luft said he saw Williams outside with two other people — Josh Baker and Ed Brown.

The description witnesses gave of the shooter matched Williams and Brown as they are of similar height, build and racial description.

O’Mara asked Luft if he had interacted with Williams before and what his impression of Williams was.

Luft said he was familiar with Williams, as he had been a victim of criminal mischief when someone kicked in the door to his apartment in May. He said he had never encountered Fleming.

“He was laid back,” Luft said of Williams.

Once on the scene, Luft and fellow officer Duane Ollendick performed CPR on Fleming until the ambulance arrived, but Fleming was unresponsive.

Fleming appeared to have wounds to his chest and neck, Ollendick said.

Luft asked witnesses who the shooter was, and where the shooter went. His bodycam footage — which was shared in court — showed several witnesses, some shouting, others agitated or excited.

Witnesses at the scene told officers a person shot into the vehicle, a dark red Chevy Equinox SUV, and pulled Fleming out of the vehicle after he was shot. The person then climbed into the vehicle and drove off. 

Police then looked around the complex’s parking lot for the vehicle.

Williams later turned himself in to police in Chicago, Floyd County Attorney Rachel Ginbey said, as she gave the series of events that led police to discover Williams likely drove to Illinois.

Officer Jason Flores was with Luft on patrol that night, as he was in training. He was not uniformed or armed.

“It was my first time witnessing something like that,” Flores said.

On Tuesday, six men and eight women were selected as jurors.

Williams’ other court-appointed attorney, Nellie O’Mara, previously argued that because of media coverage, Williams would not be able to get a fair trial in Floyd County. She asked that the trial be moved. 

Davenport denied the motion last month.

Testimony will resume Thursday in Charles City. 


Our previous story:

CHARLES CITY | At least three people called 911 to report a shooting at a Charles City apartment complex in June, according to a recording played in court Wednesday morning.

The recording of the 911 calls was played during the first day of Antoine Tyree Williams’ first-degree murder trial in Floyd County District Court.

Williams, 36, a Chicago native, is accused of first-degree murder in the death of Nathaniel Fleming, 36, last known address Mason City, June 30. Police say Williams shot Fleming multiple times during an argument around 10 p.m. near the Casa Apartments on Clarkview Drive and then fled the scene.

In the first 911 call, an unidentified man tells a female dispatcher “somebody’s been shot and carjacked.”

The dispatcher then asks the man how he knows someone has been shot and carjacked.

“’Cause I heard the gunshots, and he’s laying right here by the garbage dumpster, and they took off in his truck, I seen it,” the caller says.

“Did you see who took the truck?” the dispatcher asks.

“Yes, I did, it’s supposed to be his brother,” the caller replies, but doesn't identify who allegedly took the truck. 

He then asks the dispatcher to “hurry up, (because) the man might die” and says the person — who he says he doesn’t know — has been shot three times.

Two others also reported the shooting via 911 calls. 

The third caller, a female, tells the dispatcher she heard gunshots. The judge asked the jury to disregard the female caller, as she couldn't be identified. 

On Tuesday, six men and eight women were selected as jurors.

Williams’ court-appointed attorney, Nellie O’Mara, previously argued that because of media coverage, Williams would not be able to get a fair trial in Floyd County. She asked that the trial be moved. 

Davenport denied the motion last month.


Iowa
Ernst: Trump's Iowa request 'a lot of Washington gossip'

The federal official that President Donald Trump reportedly directed to reject Iowa's stopgap insurance plan referred to the matter as "a lot of Washington gossip," U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said late Tuesday.

Still, it wasn't clear if the official specifically denied the president wanted the plan killed.

Ernst was the keynote speaker at the Scott County Republican Party's fall fundraising dinner in Bettendorf on Tuesday evening, and after the event she took questions from reporters, including some about the state's attempt to get an Affordable Care Act waiver from the Trump administration.

Last week, the Washington Post, citing people it did not identify, reported that the president read an article about Iowa's request in August and then contacted Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and made it clear the plan was to be rejected.

Iowa officials said after the Post report that they still believe the request is being considered. Sen. Chuck Grassley's office reiterated that Wednesday. But the report that the president intervened gained widespread attention, with critics charging it was the latest evidence of Trump's attempt to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.

Ernst said Tuesday she spoke with Verma about the report. "I asked her about that and the way she said, 'it was a lot of Washington gossip,'" Ernst said.

Asked if Verma specifically confirmed the report, Ernst said: "She said it was a lot of Washington gossip." A request to the White House for comment on the matter last week was not answered.

Iowa's insurance division formally submitted its waiver request in August and last month got a "letter of completeness" from the administration, which state officials portrayed as a step forward.

Public comments are being taken on Iowa's request until Oct. 19, and Ernst said a decision could come by the end of the month.

Iowa officials have been pushing for a decision on the plan, which they say is a temporary fix, because open enrollment begins Nov. 1.

Medica, an insurer based in Minnesota, is the only company that has said it will sell coverage in Iowa's ACA marketplace next year. However, it has asked for an average premium increase of 56 percent, which state officials say will drive people to drop coverage.

The state's request is to create a single, standardized insurance plan which would then be marketed by insurers who choose to participate. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the state's largest insurer, has agreed to take part if the plan is approved.

The plan also requests that the federal government approve use of Affordable Care Act funding to pay for a revamped set of premium tax credits and a reinsurance program to help with high cost customers.


Ernst