On Monday, May 2, 2016, at 11:21 p.m., Marcus Owens came to the Iowa City Police Department (ICPD) to report that he had been assaulted. Owens reported that on Saturday, April 30, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., he was in the alleyway of the 200 block of Iowa Avenue when he was approached by an individual and subsequently struck multiple times. Owens further reported that he was struck several more times by multiple subjects while being called racial slurs. The suspects were initially described as being three white males, average height, and approximately 19 to 22 years of age. Owens later sought medical treatment and was treated and released for non-life threatening injuries at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
Upon receiving the report, the ICPD immediately began its investigation into the matter. Further, based on the magnitude of the allegations and threat of public safety to the community, the ICPD treated the investigation as a major case with the dedication of all available resources.
ICPD Investigators were able to collect and view video of the incident. They were also able to identify and interview witnesses who had observed Owens involved in several physical confrontations that night. The ICPD was able to determine the following timeline of events:
- On May 2, Owens came to the Iowa City Police Department to report that he was assaulted on April 30.
- Owens reports that on April 30 at approximately 9 p.m. he arrived at Eden Lounge, 217 Iowa Avenue.
- Owens further reports that on April 30 between the hours of 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. he was assaulted by multiple white males in the alley way of the 200 block of Iowa Avenue while attempting to use his cell phone.
- On May 2, the ICPD immediately began its investigation into the matter and was able to locate multiple witnesses as well as video surveillance footage for the times, dates, and locations of the initial incident as it was reported by Owens.
- Video surveillance footage shows Owens first entering Eden Lounge at 11:43 p.m. on April 30.
- Video surveillance footage shows Owens as a participant in an altercation at Eden Lounge at 1:32 a.m. on May 1.
- Video surveillance footage shows Owens exiting Eden Lounge at 1:34 a.m. on May 1 and then being involved with pushing and punching another person.
- Video surveillance footage shows Owens being removed from the area of Eden Lounge by the bar staff at 1:35 a.m. on May 1.
- Video surveillance footage shows Owens attempting to re-enter the outside entry area of Eden Lounge before being stopped by bar staff at 1:36 a.m. on May 1.
- Video surveillance footage shows Owens being involved in another altercation at the intersection of Iowa Avenue and Linn Street at 1:41 a.m. on May 1.
- On May 1 at 1:45 a.m., according to witnesses, Owens was involved in a third altercation whereupon he grabbed onto another subject and attempted to strike the individual.
- Immediately after that altercation, a University of Iowa Police Officer arrived on-scene and, according to witnesses, Owens walked home with another person.
According to multiple witness accounts, Owens was reported to have made statements being concerned about his injuries sustained during the altercations and how he was going to inform his family.
As the investigation into this matter continued, multiple reports were confirmed that the original altercations stemmed from a disagreement between two students who are members of fraternities, the Pi Kappa Alpha and Kappa Sigma’s; however, this incident was described as an isolated incident between two subjects which began inside of Eden Lounge and continued outside. Owens was reported to have been a pledge member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. Both fraternities have cooperated extensively with this investigation.
According to witnesses, the “n” word was used by one individual at the time of the second altercation. This investigation was referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) for review to assist in making the determination if this matter was defined as a hate crime. The FBI determined that the facts of this investigation did not meet the criteria necessary to be labeled as a hate crime. The investigation was also submitted to the Johnson County Attorney’s Office for review.
At no point in this investigation was any information located that was determined to present a public safety issue to the Iowa City community as well as the University of Iowa community. All evidence gathered supports that this was an isolated incident that stemmed from an ongoing disagreement.
The Iowa City Police Department was assisted in the investigation by the University of Iowa Police Department, the Johnson County Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
On May 16, 2016, Marcus Owens and his family issued an apology letter to the Iowa City Police Department, the Iowa City Community, and the University of Iowa. The text of the letter provided by Owens can be found below.
This investigation is nearing completion; however, no charges are anticipated at this time.
A media conference will be held on Tuesday May 17, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. in the Emma J. Harvat Hall located at 410 East Washington Street, Iowa City. Representatives from the Iowa City Police Department and the Johnson County Attorney’s Office will be available for media questions.
No further information will be released regarding this case until the scheduled media conference.
Letter received from Marcus Owens and family:
“To Marcus Owens’s friends, the Iowa City Community, the University of Iowa, and the Iowa City Police Department:
Marcus Owens and the entire Owens family would like to issue their deepest apologies to Marcus’s friends, the Iowa City community, the University of Iowa, and the Iowa City Police Department for the misunderstandings and anxiety stemming from Marcus’s involvement in a violent incident in downtown Iowa City on May 1. Upon learning more details of the case, and while racial slurs served to fuel the violence, Marcus now knows that his account of events was inconsistent with police findings, in part due to alcohol being involved, his embarrassment at his behavior, as well as the injuries he sustained. In light of this, it was concluded that this incident was not a hate crime as originally believed, but rather a case of excessive underage drinking and extremely poor judgment on the part of many people, Marcus included. Again, we would like to apologize and thank the University (especially President Bruce Harreld and his staff) and the Iowa City Police Department for their attention, sensitivity, diligence in investigating this matter, and in thoroughly addressing our many concerns. Just as we have learned many life-changing lessons, we hope too that the community will continue to examine the many issues raised by this unfortunate incident.
-Marcus Owens and The Owens Family”
YouTube links to surveillance video:
Dropbox Links to surveillance:
View the timeline of events