Iowa State Patrol Tactical Team Leader Killed In Grundy Center Stand-Off
A 27-year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol was shot to death Friday night during an armed stand-off with a man who authorities say had assaulted a policeman earlier that evening.
Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Jim Smith was part of a tactical team that entered the Grundy Center home of Michael Lang at about 9 p.m. Friday. Mitch Mortvedt, Assistant Director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, delivered a briefing on the case Saturday afternoon.
“After Sergeant Smith was shot, members of the entry team observed Lang emerge from the doorway, holding a black, pump action shotgun,” he said. “Two members of the entry team that were with Sergeant Smith retreated into the basement, while other members of the entry team pulled Sergeant Smith from the residence. Lang then barricaded himself inside the residence and refused to come out.”
Just before midnight, authorities used an armored vehicle to batter into Lang’s house.
“During the entry, Lang shot several rounds at the personnel carrier and three members of the tactical team returned fire, striking Lang multiple times,” Mortvedt said.
Mortvdt told reporters Lang was taken to University of Iowa Hospitals. As of Sunday, authorities say he’s in critical condition after surgery for multiple gunshot wounds. Lang has been charged with one count of first degree murder and is being held on a $1 million bond.
The chain of events began shortly before 7:30 p.m. Friday when a Grundy Center police officer attempted to make a traffic stop, but Mortvedt said Lang sped away, then stopped in an area southeast of Grundy Center and assaulted the officer.
“During the assault, Lang yelled, ‘Shoot me!’ multiple times to this officer,” Mortvedt said. “Lang disarmed the officer of his Taser, removed his radio and put the officer in a chokehold.”
Mortvedt said a Hardin County deputy who arrived at that scene tried to arrest Lang, but Lang got back in his vehicle and sped back into Grundy Center. The deputy found the vehicle parked outside Lang’s house, saw Lang walking inside, and called for back-up.
On Sunday, Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens said Smith died a hero.
“He was shot and killed, attempting to arrest a barricaded subject,” Bayens said. “He sacrificed himself protecting others.”
Bayens on Saturday said Smith’s death is a horrific loss to his family and his co-workers.
“We are hurting. We are angry, but rest assured we’re not broken,” he said. “We will continue to shoulder the burdens of our communities while carrying our own.”
Smith is survived by a wife and two children. He had been stationed to the patrol’s district office in Oelwein since 1996 and was the leader of one of the patrol’s Tactical Teams.
Smith is the second state trooper in the history of the State Patrol to be shot and killed in the line of duty. The first was Trooper Oran Pape, who was killed in 1936 as he pursued a suspect.
The man charged with murdering Smith Friday night was “known to authorities,” according to the Division of Criminal Investigation. The Des Moines Register reports Lang had recently been cited for trespassing at a Grundy Center bar where he had been banned due to belligerent behavior. Court records show he was charged with third offense drunk driving in 2009, a felony. Lang unsuccessfully ran for sheriff as a Democrat in 2020. The first degree murder criminal complaint filed Saturday indicates Lang’s father went to his son’s house early in the stand-off and told officers his son had several guns inside, including a shotgun.