East Idaho has experienced a rash of recent unrelated incidents of gun violence, resulting in three fatalities, including the Feb. 8 death of an Idaho Falls man who an unidentified officer reportedly mistook for a suspect.
On Sunday afternoon, a suspect whose identity has not been disclosed was killed when law enforcement officers returned his fire during a standoff in the Rose-Firth area, police said.
On Sunday night, area authorities also wrapped up one of the most intense manhunts in Southeast Idaho’s history when they nabbed 43-year-old Richard “Rocky” Iverson, of Blackfoot, who was allegedly involved in a Saturday night shootout with U.S. Marshals that claimed the life of another suspect.
“I was talking to the sheriff of Bonneville County yesterday. This is winter time. This is supposed to be our slow time of year — when people stay home,” said Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland.
“It was snowing and it was 11 degrees yesterday when we were out there. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. We don’t normally see this until June, July or August.”
On Saturday night, U.S. Marshals spotted Iverson, wanted on lewd conduct charges, and another suspect in a pickup truck in Pocatello.
When the Marshals attempted to pull the vehicle over a high-speed chase ensued. The pursuit ended around 10:10 p.m. with the pickup truck crashing into the fence of the Pocatello Police Department’s parking lot behind City Hall at East Sublette Street and North Sixth Avenue.
Iverson fled the scene of the crash on foot while the other suspect opened fire on the U.S. Marshals, police said. A U.S. Marshal returned fire and fatally shot the suspect, the U.S. Marshals Service said. Authorities declined to release the name of the suspect who was fatally shot on Monday, citing the pending investigation.
During their search for Iverson, whose criminal history they said also includes drug, aggravated assault and eluding convictions, U.S. Marshals described him as an “armed and extremely dangerous fugitive.” Police said Iverson had threatened to commit by cop and other violent acts.
Bingham County Sheriff’s deputies apprehended Iverson at 7:15 p.m. on Sunday. He was arrested without incident at a home near Moreland, located northwest of Blackfoot, officials said.
Bingham County deputies were involved in another incident that ended with the fatal shooting of a suspect on Sunday. At about 2:30 a.m., a man inside of a home in the area of 800 N. and 150 W., located in the Rose-Firth area, allegedly fired several shots at deputies from inside of the home.
Backup was then requested from the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team and the Southeast Idaho Special Tactics and Response team.
”Throughout the day and into the early afternoon, deputies attempted negotiations for a peaceful surrender with the man who continued randomly firing rounds from inside the residence toward them,” the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release. “This resulted in deputies returning fire toward the man, wounding him, and ultimately allowing deputies to safely advance and prevent him from continuing to fire.”
Deputies and medics at the scene administered life-saving efforts while the man awaited transport to Bingham Memorial Hospital, where he later died of his injuries, according to the press release. The Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Task Force is investigating the incident.
“It was a long weekend for everybody,” Rowland said. “We’ve had guys work like 40 hours straight wanting to be there to help and willing to come back out last night if we needed another SWAT team.”
The Eastern Idaho Criminal Incident Task Force is also investigating the Feb. 8 shooting death of Joseph Johnson, 37, of Idaho Falls. Idaho Falls police were reportedly searching for Tanner Shoesmith, 22, who fled from a traffic stop.
Johnson was in his backyard holding a gun and wearing clothing as Shoesmith, authorities said. The officer who shot Johnson has been placed on paid administrative leave, and his name has not been released, police said.
Family members of Johnson have created a GoFundMe page in his name, which can be found at bit.ly/JohnsonFund. The page had raised nearly $21,000 as of Monday.
Local authorities have also responded to some other cases of gun violence in recent that didn’t result in deaths.
On Thursday afternoon, a Chubbuck man allegedly shot at police before leading them on a high-speed chase.
In connection with the incident, Talon Cavanaugh, 26, of Idaho Falls, could face up to life in prison if convicted. Bannock County prosecutors said they planned to file repeat offender enhancements against Cavanaugh, who was charged with eluding, aggravated battery of a police officer and destruction of evidence.
Those charges would normally carry a combined sentence of over 25 years in prison.
Police said Cavanaugh was wanted for allegedly breaking into a Bonneville County home and shooting a gun above his ex-wife’s head. Police said at 3:55 p.m. Thursday, they saw Cavanaugh driving on Briarwood Street off of Hiline Road in Chubbuck.
When the Chubbuck officers attempted to pull over Cavanaugh’s vehicle he opened fire on the officers, who were in a marked patrol vehicle, police said.
Cavanaugh fired multiple rounds at the Chubbuck officers before speeding away, police said.
None of the Chubbuck officers were wounded during the incident and they did not shoot back at Cavanaugh, police said.
Cavanaugh then headed north on Hiline Road and entered the Fort Hall Indian Reservation with police in pursuit.
Cavanaugh drove off Ferry Butte Road and almost made it to Bronco Road before his vehicle got stuck in the rough terrain, police said. He then fled on foot with police in pursuit, authorities said.
When police surrounded Cavanaugh in the area of Bronco Road he surrendered without incident, police said.
At some point during Thursday’s incidents, Cavanaugh destroyed several grams of heroin in his possession, prompting police to charge him with destruction of evidence, police said.
In Pocatello, police are still investigating an apparent drive-by shooting reported on Feb. 7 outside of Clydesdale Bar & Lounge, located in the 600 block of North Fifth Avenue near City Hall. The gunfire came from a vehicle driving along North Fifth Avenue and the bullets struck several cars parked along the roadway, police said. There were no injuries.
Also in Pocatello, on the morning of Jan. 20, a man who lives in an apartment in the 300 block of West Clark Street in Pocatello was allegedly shot by in a stairwell accessing his hallway. The man has reportedly been released from hospital care.
A resident of a neighboring apartment, Nicola “Nikki” Taysom, reportedly kept the shooting victim calm and applied pressure to his gunshot wound until an ambulance arrived.