Wapello County Sheriff laments ‘absolutely tragic event’

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The Wapello County Sheriff’s office issued a statement Monday in regard to the Feb. 18 house invasion in rural Wapello County that led to the death of Aaron Thompson, 28, of Brookfield, Wisconsin. The statement follows. –Ed.

The Wapello County Sheriff’s office is releasing the name of the individual who died Feb. 19, 2021. The following is a synopsis of the events of Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 that led up to the death of Aaron Thompson, 28, of Brookfield, Wisconsin.

On Feb. 18, the Brookfield Police Department in Wisconsin conducted a welfare check on Aaron Thompson. The Brookfield PD was not able to locate Thompson in person but was able to make contact with Thompson on the phone. Later that same day, Aaron Thompson checked into the Hampton Inn in Kirksville, Missouri. Thompson was attending A. T. Still University Medical School but was currently on leave from the university.

At 1:55 p.m. Thompson reserved a room for two nights at the Hampton Inn. Witnesses on scene report that Thompson displayed erratic behaviors and made odd statements. Despite making a two-night reservation, Thompson proceeded to leave Kirksville later that evening.

At approximately 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 18, a witness observed someone near a vehicle in the ditch on 90th Street in Wapello County, yelling unintelligibly and behaving erratically. At approximately 9:19 p.m., a woman called 911, reporting that a subject was attempting to gain entry into her residence located between Ottumwa and Agency on 97th Avenue in rural Wapello County.

Deputies and Iowa State Patrol Troopers arrived on scene and rendered aid. Members of law enforcement and paramedics attempted to speak to Thompson but were unable to effectively communicate due to Mr. Thompson’s mental state. Paramedics transported Thompson to Ottumwa Regional Health Center, where he was a short time later airlifted to the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City, where Mr. Thompson passed away.

Interviews on scene indicate that Aaron Thompson was aggressively attempting to enter the home, successfully entered the home and saying incoherent statements while doing so. Inside the home, the homeowner and Thompson engaged in a physical altercation. This altercation tragically ended in the homeowner firing one shot, striking Thompson in the torso.

The Wapello County Sheriff’s Department and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation investigated the scene of the shooting. The Johnson County Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy of Thompson. Wapello County Sheriff’s Deputies questioned witnesses and obtained documentation from Kirksville, Missouri, and Brookfield, Wisconsin

As a result of the investigation and in consulting with Wapello County Attorney Reuben Neff, our findings point to this being an absolutely tragic event. Evidence indicates Thompson was suffering a mental health crisis when he entered a Wapello County residence, engaged the homeowner in a physical altercation and was shot. At this time, in reviewing this matter, criminal charges do not appear warranted.

The lack of criminal charges do not take away the fact that this was the most unfortunate event possible. Aaron Thompson was clearly a successful young man with a bright future. Unfortunately, mental health can affect anyone and appears to have played a significant role in this chain of events. Our heart goes out to the Thompson family, who lost a wonderful son, as well as the homeowners involved, who faced an impossible situation and must live with this.

The Wapello County Sheriff’s office was assisted by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Iowa State Patrol, Wapello County Emergency Management, Iowa DOT Motor Vehicle Enforcement and the Wapello County Attorney’s Office.

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