The Iowa City Police Department and Johnson County Attorney's Office continue their investigation into the Oct. 17, 2021, incident in which a driver was found to be suffering from what appeared to be a gunshot wound. The investigation has found the following:
At approximately 6:30 p.m., Oct. 17, Philip Olson, 69, of Iowa City, discharged a .22 caliber air rifle at a squirrel from his home adjacent to Highway 6 in Iowa City. The air rifle was fired south toward Highway 6. On Oct. 20, Olson, who had heard about the incident, presented himself to the Iowa City Police Department and admitted to shooting from inside his house at the squirrel and missing.
Around the same time that Olson discharged his weapon, Iowa City Police responded to Highway 6 and Sycamore Street for a reported single vehicle traffic accident. The driver was discovered to be suffering from what appeared to be a wound consistent with a small caliber projectile. He was transported by the Johnson County Ambulance to the University of Iowa Hospitals for treatment and remains hospitalized.
The air rifle used by Olson uses air pressure to discharge pellets. These non-gun powder weapons - including BB, air, and pellet guns - expel projectiles powered by air, CO2, or spring action. Such weapons are different than traditional firearms which use gunpowder to generate energy to launch a projectile. However, the air pressure generated creates enough force to injure or kill. Despite the potential for death or injury, Iowa law does not define such guns as firearms or per se dangerous weapons (a device specifically identified as a dangerous weapon in the Iowa Code).
As a result of the investigation, Olson is accused of violating City Code 8-7-3: Toy Guns and Slingshots, which prohibits discharging "any air rifle, toy pistol, toy gun or other toy arms or slingshot" within City limits.
Olson also faces the following Iowa Department of Natural Resources violations:
- Hunting without a license
- Hunting without a habitat fee
- Unlawful take or attempt to take of squirrels
- Shooting a rifle over a highway
The Johnson County Attorney’s Office and the Iowa City Police Department, along with the family of the shooting victim, are committed to working towards legislative change to define these weapons as firearms or per se dangerous weapons as they do in several other states.
Previous press release issued on Oct. 22, 2021:
Following the investigation into the Oct. 17, 2021, car crash in which the driver was discovered to be suffering from a gunshot wound, Iowa City Police have identified the person believed to be responsible for the driver's injury. Police believe the shooting was unintentional and there is no threat to public safety.
No arrests have been made at this time and the investigation is ongoing. No other information will be released at this time.
Previous press release issued on Oct. 20, 2021:
Iowa City Police have identified a person of interest following an investigation into the Oct. 17, 2021, car crash in which the driver was discovered to be suffering from a gunshot wound. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing. However, police do not believe there is an active threat to the public related to this incident.
The victim remains in critical condition at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
No other information is available at this time.
Previous press release issued on Oct. 18, 2021:
On Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, at approximately 6:37 p.m., Iowa City Police responded to Highway 6 and Sycamore Street for a traffic crash. Officers located a single vehicle with one unconscious person inside. It was discovered he had suffered a gunshot wound. It was determined the lone occupant, a 20-year-old man, was in the vehicle and traveling eastbound on Highway 6 when the vehicle left the roadway and crashed into the median west of the intersection with Sycamore Street.
The man was transported by Johnson County Ambulance to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics remains in critical condition. The incident remains under active investigation.