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Incendiary device planted at University of Iowa. Suspect in custody.

Guidelink Center
Zachary Oren Smith
/
IPR News
Employees of GuideLink Center, 300 Southgate Ave, Iowa City, called police on a man who attacked staff. Police took Nezzy Underscore Conway, a 23-year-old from Iowa City. They say he's connected to an incendiary device that was planted Tuesday, July 5 at the University of Iowa College of Public Helath.

No injuries were reported in a series of incidents involving a machete, "a suicide plan," and a number of incendiary devices discovered Tuesday in Iowa City.

Police charged an Iowa City man with felony terrorism in connection with an incendiary device he allegedly planted at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

Nezzy Underscore Conway, a 23-year-old from Iowa City, was arrested and charged with three felonies: 2 counts of possession of explosives and 1 count of terrorism. Iowa Code describes "terrorism" as an act intended to coerce a civilian population or government agency with a dangerous weapon.

After 9 a.m. Tuesday, the UI Police Department responded to the University of Iowa College of Public Health, where they claim to have found an incendiary device on an exterior outlet that appeared singed from someone attempting to set it on fire. The device was wrapped in bright neon yellow-green tape. Above the device, the word “HELP” was scrawled on the wall in what authorities said was soot or ash.

An hour later, Iowa City Police responded to the GuideLink Center where a Conway was reportedly attacking employees. GuideLink offers substance abuse and mental health crisis services for the Johnson County area. According to the call for service, he was wielding a machete.

After a scuffle with police, Conway was taken into police custody and to the hospital for treatment of self-inflicted wounds and an evaluation. In his backpack, police said they found another incendiary device wrapped in a familiar neon color tape.

Police claim he repeatedly said that hurting other people and using explosive devices war part of his "suicide plan."

Police evacuated the Capitol House Apartments at 320 S Dubuque St. in Iowa City ahead of a search. They claim to have found more incendiary devices. The search turned up a notebook signed with Conway’s name containing the following statement: “USE INCENDIARIES TO DESTROY THE ELECTRICAL BOX BY THE COURTHOUSE.” And on the premises was a roll of neon tape.

"Information obtained by law enforcement indicated that the (defendant) had been in contact with a former teacher and told them that if the teacher and the (defendants) mother didn't find him a romantic partner for him within thirty days, he would take his own life," Tyler Schneider of the Johnson County Sheriff's Office wrote in the criminal complaint.

The GuideLink Center is run by AbbeHealth Services, a subsidiary of UnityPoint Health. Iowa Public Radio reached out to Unity Point Health to see how services were impacted. UnityPoint responded with a statement attributed to Abbey Ferenzi, the executive director of GuideLink saying that the facility was closed for a day while law enforcement conducted its investigation. Services have since resumed.

Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa