At a press conference Thursday morning, Police Chief Tim Carmody outlined a series of criminal events that began Sunday, which he and investigators believe are connected to the man who was shot and killed by a Council Bluffs Police officer early Wednesday morning.
Carmody said Troy E. Petersen, 28, of Essex, is suspected of being involved in the deaths of 52-year-old Jerrot Clark and 51-year-old Steven Carlson, who were found dead at separate private residences on Sunday and Wednesday, respectively.
Petersen died after a round fired by a Council Bluffs Police officer struck him in the head, ending what Carmody called a hostage situation.
Petersen’s alleged accomplice, a 44-year-old Shenandoah woman, April Montello-Roberts, has been implicated in the deaths of Clark and Carlson.
The dovetailing investigations began Sunday at about 5:15 p.m. when Clark was found dead by Council Bluffs police officers at 2103 Sixth Avenue. Police immediately suspected it was a homicide, Carmody said. The cause of death was determined to be a gunshot wound.
At about 2:15 Wednesday morning, Pottawattamie County Deputy Ryan Olderog spotted a green 1997 Dodge Ram in the area of County Road L34 and Juniper Road parked with its lights off.
Olderog approached the vehicle in his cruiser when an occupant of the vehicle fired shots at Olderog before fleeing the scene, Carmody said.
A short time after eluding Olderog, the vehicle was spotted by Council Bluffs police officers who were on the lookout for the suspects.
Officers Colby McCord and Anthony Fletcher recognized the vehicle and attempted to pull it over. Again, one of the occupants — later determined to be Petersen — fired shots at the pursuing officers, leading them on a chase that ended in a rollover crash in the 1400 block of Indian Hills Road.
Carmody said that upon surrounding the vehicle, officers saw Petersen and Montello-Roberts inside. Petersen reportedly had five guns, one of which was a rifle that he pointed at both Montello-Roberts and the officers responding to the scene. Petersen declared to police that Montello-Roberts was a hostage.
For nearly two hours, Carmody said, the officers pleaded with Petersen to put down the weapon and surrender. Petersen eventually threw one gun out of the truck. Petersen became more agitated, and began pointing the gun at Montello-Roberts’s head.
In an effort to prevent Petersen from shooting Montello-Roberts, a Council Bluffs officer fired one round, striking Petersen, who died at the scene, according to police reports.
Montello-Roberts, who was originally thought to be a victim, was transported to a local hospital for an examination.
Later Wednesday, officers were dispatched to 270 Yellow Pole Road, where they found Carlson’s body. Authorities determined the cause of death to be multiple gunshot wounds.
“One of the critical points of this conference is that each of these incidents began in a vacuum,” Carmody said. “None of the officers or deputies at the Indian Hills Road incident were aware that Petersen or Montello-Roberts were connected to the Clark homicide. Nor were they aware that Peterson and Montello-Roberts were involved in the Carlson homicide.”
The puzzle pieces started to fit together during interviews following the Indian Hills incident, Carmody said.
It was during that investigation that police discovered that Petersen and Montello-Roberts entered Clark’s residence with the intent to rob him before he was killed.
Initial reports suggested that Petersen was driving the Dodge pickup, but investigators have since learned that Montello-Roberts was driving, while Petersen fired shots at the pursuing officers during the chase.
It was during the short time period — about 26 minutes — between Olderog losing sight of Peterson and Montello-Roberts and McCord and Fletcher picking them back up, that Petersen and Montello-Roberts allegedly forced their way into Carlson’s house and allegedly killed him.
“Unfortunately, We didn’t learn about this part of the tragedy until Mr. Carlson was discovered by his family,” Carmody said of the second homicide.
Officers reportedly observed Petersen and Montello-Roberts shortly after fleeing Carlson’s home. It was then that Petersen began firing at McCord, hitting his cruiser while he attempted to dodge the gunfire.
The officer who fired the shot that killed Petersen is still undergoing interviews. His name is being withheld at this time until all the necessary interviews are conducted, Carmody said.
In addition to the Council Bluffs Police Department and Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations is looking into the matter.
“When one of our members is involved in a deadly force encounter like this we request the assistance of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation,” Carmody said.
Montello-Roberts’s role as hostage to Peterson may be more complicated than initial reports suggest.
Carmody said it is unclear exactly what type of relationship she and Petersen had, but she is considered an accomplice, as she is being charged with two counts of felony murder in connection with the shooting deaths of Clark and Carlson, two counts of attempted murder for her part in the pursuit in which officers were fired upon, one count of first-degree robbery and one count of first-degree burglary.
Carmody said the investigation is ongoing and more details will be released over time, but he doesn’t suspect that any more victims will be found as a result of the pair’s crime spree.
“The public is safe,” Carmody said.