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The Des Moines Register

Suspect identified, charged after Des Moines standoff at hotel ends without injuries

By Philip Joens and Virginia Barreda, Des Moines Register,

2023-09-26

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A man was arrested Tuesday afternoon after barricading himself in a Budget Inn & Suites just north of the Des Moines city limits.

Polk County Sheriff's Capt. Ryan Evans said the incident started with a traffic stop of a silver 2008 Honda Civic around 10:15 a.m. in the parking lot of the hotel at 5220 NE 14th St. According to police, the driver failed to stop at a stop sign.

Des Moines standoff began with traffic stop in Budget Inn & Suites parking lot

The driver did not stop for police and instead jumped out of the car and fled on foot, according to a news release from the Polk County Sheriff's Office. The man fired shots at a deputy, Evans said, then barricaded himself in the hotel resulting in a standoff that lasted about four hours.

The suspect's vehicle rolled across the street into a tree while he was fleeing. Police closed NE 14th Street during the incident and reopened it shortly after 3 p.m.

The man, identified Tuesday evening as Scott Eugene Smith, 42, of Des Moines was arrested at about 2:20 p.m. once police were able to enter the motel. Deputies were not injured when they were shot at, Evans said.

"This is exactly what law enforcement wants," Evans told reporters after the suspect's arrest. "We want a peaceful end with no injuries."

Smith was arrested for an outstanding warrant and faces charges including attempted murder, felon in possession of a firearm, and interference with official acts, according to a news release from the sheriff's office. He is also facing narcotics and theft charges and a traffic offense.

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Officers from the Des Moines Police Department, Ankeny Police Department, Division of Criminal Investigation, Iowa State Patrol, 5th Judicial District Fugitive Unit, United States Marshals Office, ATF, FBI and SWAT units in armored vehicles responded to the scene.

Guests and staff members were inside the hotel when the suspect first entered. At around 12:45 p.m. Des Moines Register journalists saw people being led out of the hotel. By 1:20 p.m. everyone but the suspect was evacuated from the building, said Evans.

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Nearby Saydel schools on lockdown during Des Moines standoff

Saydel High School, which sits less than a mile from the hotel, went into lockdown from about 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. On Facebook Saydel Community School District Superintendent Todd Martin wrote that the lockdown was a "precautionary" measure. All after-school practices and activities were canceled and buildings were to be closed this evening, the district announced on Facebook.

No one was allowed in or out of the school and Martin asked parents to avoid going to Saydel High for the time being.

"As indicated in our earlier message, there were no reports of any direct threats encroaching on school property, or in our school buildings, and all staff and students were safe and secure for the duration of the event," Martin wrote in an update.

Neighboring business owners report lots of police, seeing a crash before Des Moines standoff

Several cars were abandoned on Northeast 14th Street after the streets surrounding the hotel were locked down suddenly Tuesday morning.

Business owners told the Register that police asked them to stay in place during the standoff. Sam Dalgliesh, studio manager of Midwest Mellow, a business located in a strip mall across the street from the hotel, said he didn't feel like he was in "immediate danger," but when you don't know what's going on, it can be "nerve-racking."

Bill McCalley of McCalley Mechanics next to the Budget Inn said police told him to lock his doors. There were at least 50 people around his driveway including SWAT, negotiators, mobile command from agencies including sheriff's office, Des Moines Police Department and Iowa State Patrol, McCalley said.

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Don Stoeckel, manager of Bauer Built Tire & Service across from the hotel, said around 12:20 p.m. that the main road had been closed for about an hour and a half. Stoeckel did not see or hear any gunshot fired this morning.

Jessica Daniels, manager of Window World of Des Moines located in a small strip mall across the street from the hotel, said that she believed the car that belonged to the suspect crashed into a tree on the strip mall property.

Register journalists Noelle Alviz-Gransee and Lily Smith contributed reporting.

Philip Joens covers retail, real estate and RAGBRAI for the Des Moines Register. He can be reached at 515-284-8184, pjoens@registermedia.com or on Twitter @Philip_Joens.

Virginia Barreda is the Des Moines city government reporter for the Register. She can be reached at vbarreda@dmreg.com. Follow her on Twitter at @vbarreda2.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Suspect identified, charged after Des Moines standoff at hotel ends without injuries

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