GRUNDY CENTER, Iowa – On Friday, April 9, 2021, Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Jim Smith, a 27-year-veteran of the Iowa State Patrol (ISP), was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a barricaded subject in Grundy County.
According to the criminal complaint and affidavit, at approximately 7:22 p.m., Grundy Center Police attempted to conduct a traffic stop on Michael Lang, within Grundy Center City limits. Lang fled from Grundy Center Police and he was chased to an area southeast of town. Lang pulled over on 250th Avenue, exited his vehicle, and assaulted the Grundy Center Police Officer who chased him. During the assault, Lang yelled, “shoot me” multiple times to the Officer. Lang disarmed the officer of his Taser, removed his radio, and put the Officer in a chokehold.
Law enforcement responded to the area of the assault. A Grundy County Sheriff’s Deputy arrived on the scene and witnessed the officer recovering from the assault and Lang in the area of the Officer’s patrol vehicle. The deputy drew his weapon and gave commands to Lang to put his hands up. Lang did not comply, stating, “Come get me,” and subsequently got into his vehicle and fled the area.
The deputy pursued Lang back into Grundy Center but lost sight of him. The deputy went to Lang’s residence, saw his vehicle parked in the driveway, and Lang walking into the residence through the garage. The deputy requested assistance from other law enforcement officers. Responding law enforcement set up a perimeter around the house. Lang’s father arrived at the house and advised law enforcement that Lang had multiple firearms inside the residence, including a .410 shotgun.
At approximately 8:55 p.m., Smith, three additional ISP Troopers, and a Hardin County Sheriff’s Deputy K-9 unit made entry into the residence through the door of the garage leading into the residence. Before entering the residence, Smith and the entry team verbally identified themselves as law enforcement. They also announced that they would send in a K-9. As the entry team began to clear the upstairs of the residence, Smith was hit by gunfire coming from inside the residence. After he was shot, members of the entry team observed Lang emerge from the doorway holding a black pump-action shotgun.
Two members of the entry team retreated into the basement while other members of the entry team pulled Smith from the residence. Lang then barricaded himself inside the residence and refused to come out. Members of the entry team that remained in the basement stated that Lang made several statements about having shot Smith and expressed a desire to shoot more police officers. He remained barricaded inside the residence for several hours.
At approximately 11:50 p.m., an ISP Tactical Team attempted to make entry into the residence with a wheeled armored personnel carrier. During the entry, Lang shot multiple rounds at the personnel carrier. Lang was subsequently taken into custody by ISP Tactical Team members.
Smith began his career as a member of the Department of Public Safety’s 19th Basic Academy in 1993. Upon graduation, he was first stationed in Fairfield – District 13, and in 1996 relocated to District 10 – Oelwein. He had taken on the role of leader with the Area C Tactical Team, devoting time on and off duty, to complete the tactical team mission.
A total of 11 Iowa State Troopers have been killed in the line of duty. This is only the second time a Trooper has been shot and killed in the line of duty since Trooper Oran Pape on April 29, 1936.
Gov. Kim Reynolds offered her condolences.
“It’s with deep sorrow that we recognize the loss of Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Jim Smith, a courageous hero who died in the line of duty,” she said. “Sgt. Jim Smith was a loving husband, father of two, and a pillar of the community. I along with the entire state of Iowa grieve for his family and friends as they try to cope with this devastating loss. Today we are once again reminded of the selfless sacrifices the brave men and women in uniform make. Let us never forget their bravery and that of their loved ones.”
Attorney General Tom Miller also released a statement.
“I was saddened to learn of the death of Sgt. Jim Smith. He was a dedicated public servant and courageous law enforcement officer. My heart goes out to his family and friends, as well as to his colleagues on the Iowa State Patrol,” he said.
The Attorney General’s office will prosecute Lang, who was charged with first-degree murder, jointly with the Grundy County Attorney’s Office.