A trail of clues found by citizens and law enforcement led to the arrest of a Coralville man after a fatal shooting and attempted bank robbery in Lu Verne on Wednesday.
Police say Valentino Williams, 35, killed Jessica Weishaar, 43, of Algona, while attempting to rob Security State Bank.
Williams had shot several times outside the Lu Verne bank in his escape at about 8:40 a.m., according to police. Weishaar died at the scene.
As he left the scene, witnesses saw him driving a black SUV, a Mazda CX-5 he had rented in Iowa City, that had no front license plate, and one witness attempted to follow him as he left town.
Law enforcement arrested Williams when they made a traffic stop at 9:38 a.m. near mile marker 158 on I-35 northbound.
Police were led to the area by a constant trail of clues.
Video surveillance showed the suspect wearing boots and a dark-colored Carhartt-style coat with a hoodie pulled over his head, moving a dark backpack between hands and firing a large handgun at Weishaar several times before fleeing the scene, according to police.
A witness who followed him said the suspect was also wearing a ski mask as he fled into his car and sped east out of Lu Verne. The witness said they last saw Williams heading north around the area of Hwy. 17.
Another witness heading west from Kanawha on county highway B63 saw the suspect heading east on the highway, according to police.
As Iowa State Patrol Troopers traveled areas leading away from Lu Verne, they found a black ski mask and black medical gloves east of the intersection of B63 and Highway 17, according to documents.
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A local citizen found a green Carhartt-style coat three more miles east on B63, where law enforcement also found zip ties.
Boots and jeans were also found along B63 east of Lu Verne. A dark green coat was also found near West Twin Lake on 120th Street in rural Hancock County.
In the dark green coat, law enforcement found a laminated card for a 2019 Mazda CX-5 with a VIN number that matched the car Williams was caught driving.
During a search of his car, officers seized an empty black duffel bag, a gray backpack, black spray paint and burglary tools.
The rental company the car belonged to confirmed Williams had rented the car.
West Hancock Community Schools and Corwith-Wesley-Lu Verne Elementary School were on lockdown Wednesday morning as a precaution after the shooting. After West Hancock sent out a text announcing the lockdown, parents expressed concern they did not know what was happening.
“One of the concerns was that the text messages did not have information why and that was concerning for some parents,” said West Hancock Superintendent Wayne Kronemann. “We are allowed a limited amount of characters to text. I had to eliminate all the detail, but in the emails, and all the postings it said that it was because of a pursuit in Hancock County, not anything that was happening here, it was just a precaution.”
Williams has six previous second degree robbery convictions, one second degree burglary conviction, three second degree theft convictions, an eluding conviction and an assault conviction.
In 1998, he got his first two robbery convictions and his first theft conviction. In 2000, he got his third robbery conviction, and in 2009, he was convicted of three more second degree robberies, two more second degree thefts, first degree burglary, eluding and assault.
Williams is being held at the Kossuth County Jail pending his initial appearance.
Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Enforcement Officers, Iowa State Patrol troopers and Division of Criminal Investigation agents and sheriff’s deputies helped in Williams’s arrest.
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