Author’s Archive: Gregory Berry

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — The 911 calls came by the dozens after a home on the 2400 block of Ridgewood Drive caught fire.

That was at 9:30; by 9:45 fire fighters say the flames had quickly advanced throughout the house and at times were 30 feet in the air.

At first, crews weren’t able to locate the homeowner but then she was found outside; unharmed, but covered in soot.  Her four dogs also made it out.

Firefighters say they were lucky she was located because shortly after the roof collapsed.  Fire officials say the home was packed with belongings which made it hard to advance into the home.

Officials also say low winds helped prevent embers from drifting to neighboring houses which were evacuated due to their close proximity.

There is no word on the cause of the blaze, and crews are expected to be working into the early Sunday morning hours as they put out hot spots.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Voted best couple in high school, a Johnston couple never knew they had royal ties until now.

Engaged couple Spencer Clock and Simmone Doswell became social media famous after someone compared them to the royal newlyweds, Prince  Harry and Meghan Markle.

“It’s kind of unavoidable at this point because you see them and people tag us in stuff all the time saying, ‘oh you guys are on TV again,’” says Doswell.  “And we’re like, no, it’s the royal couple.”

Clock says he’s always been compared to the prince, especially as of late during the height of the royal wedding hype.

“The other day I was at the dentist, and the dentist was like, ‘has anyone ever told you that you look like Prince Harry?’” he laughs.

Doswell, like Markle, is bi-racial and had a passion for acting as a young girl. Aside from looking like them, these two don’t much about their doppelgängers but sense their personalities could be comparable.

“They seem like a really fun loving and laid back couple, which is really similar to us,” Doswell says.

Despite the pomp and circumstance, the couple says the royal wedding helped break down interracial marriage boundaries.

“I’m still waiting for the day when it’s not out of the norm and just accepted. I think this is a step in right direction and I give Prince Harry kudos for following his heart and marrying the woman he loves no matter what she looks like.”

The Johnston couple is set to marry in September and is considering adding a royal twist.

AMES, Iowa  —  Having a new baby is a big deal for any family, but for Rob & Kari Deal of Ames, the birth of their daughter Emaline came a little quicker than expected.

“Had a little cramp and I thought, oh, maybe it’s a contraction, not really sure, oh I will go shower and get ready,” said Kari Deal.

Kari began timing her contractions, and then when she took a trip to the bathroom, her water broke.

“When her water breaks, it’s go time,” said husband Rob. “This is happening, her water didn’t break for Theo,” he explained, remembering the birth of the couple’s almost three-year old son. “She says, ‘you need to call 911 right now, the baby’s coming.’ Me being an idiot, I thought that’s just a strong contraction.”

“I remember thinking, ‘I can’t do this,’ he says yes, you can do this,” said Kari. “I lay down and pushed once and there was her head, pushed twice, there was her torso, pushed a third push, she was out, of course 911 was great. We had never done this before at home.”

The Deals are thankful for all the Ames dispatchers did on the phone and how kind the first responders were in helping. They even offered to put the bathroom door back on after it was removed so Kari could be taken to the ambulance.

“I looked at the gentleman who is holding Emaline, I said, ‘did Theo get to meet his little sister?'” said Kari. “He said, ‘I took her over and showed her to your son, he at looked at her and then went to watching Curious George again.'”

Now Theo calls Emaline by name and loves his baby sister.

The Deals were thankful for all the Fire Department first responders did, so they took Emaline for a visit to Station 2 to let the firefighters hold the baby.

“This in the most rewarding part of our career,” said Ames firefighter Jordan Damhof, adding that it’s great when there is a positive outcome.

Firefighter Adam Lande said he has seen a baby delivery before in his line of work. About a year ago, he helped to deliver twins in Ames.

“I told the mother when we got there that we’ve both done this before. I don’t think she took solace in that,” said Lande.

Emaline weighted in at just over 7 pounds and was 20 inches long. Her exact time of birth isn’t known because no one was watching the clock the moment she was born.

EARLHAM, Iowa  —  The Animal Rescue League is now caring for nine ponies seized from a farm near Earlham on Thursday.

The ARL said the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and Earlham Police Department were responding to an animal neglect complaint when they found about 60 welsh ponies at an Earlham farm, many of which were in terrible condition.

“What we look for when it comes to nourishment is we are looking for whether the hip bones and the hip pins are visible, the tail head is exposed, the ribs are visible, fat deposits on the withers will be depleted and we found that in a number of horses on the property,” ARL Welfare Intervention Coordinator Jay Wilson said.

Rescuers said while they were at the farm, some of the ponies were so hungry they were eating pretty much anything, including the hair that had fallen from other ponies. Some were locked in stalls, standing in three to four feet of mud and feces.

“These people used to be professional horse breeders and they should know exactly how much work horses are, and the fact that they are either incapable or unwilling to provide care for these horses to the point where we see them in this condition, it astounds me and it angers me, quite honestly,” Wilson said.

The Executive Director of the ARL, Tom Colvin, said it’s heartbreaking to see the ponies in these conditions.

“There is absolutely no excuse for what these ponies have gone through. While we are happy the nine ponies at our Second Chance Ranch will now be getting the help they need, we are still are very concerned for the approximately 50 ponies that still remain on the property and hope that all of the ponies will soon have the outcome they need and deserve,” Colvin said.

The ponies at Second Chance Ranch will be checked out by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

“We are going to check all of them for parasites. We are going to check their teeth, which is often time a common reason why horses lose weight. We are going to get a farrier out to start clearing up the hooves so that these horses can walk comfortably,” Wilson said. “We are going to check for any sort of infection, skin conditions. There are some horses that are showing hair loss. There are a number of things that have to be checked to make these horses more comfortable.”

Police cited the owners for neglect and improper disposal of two ponies found dead at the farm. The ARL said it will continue working closely with police to make sure the rest of the ponies still there get the care they need.

STORY CITY, Iowa — “We moved away from California to get away from stuff like this,” said Melissa Apodaca. “But, stuff like this showed up in Apodaca’s backyard Thursday afternoon, even at her porch, at the apartments on the 1400 block of Prairie Drive. “My son woke me up and we were just all just scared.”

“I was doing homework and I looked out the window and I saw this guy running from the field, by the church,” said Elias Apodaca, Melissa’s son. “And ran up wondering why he was running and saw about four cops chasing him.”

Elias provided WHO-TV Channel 13 News with photos that show authorities on scene just after the escapee was captured. But before the capture, when the escapee was on the loose, the Apodacas didn’t know what was going to happen. They got an up close look at all of the drama as it happened, just feet away from their home.

“He came over here tried to take the bike and tried to take it away,” said Elias.

That’s right, the Apodacas say the escapee tried to get away on their bicycle, which they had left out by their back porch.

“I saw this man just get tackled like right over here,” said Melissa. “And, I saw the bike on the ground.”

“He didn’t get far at all,” said Elias. “He got on the bike and then the cops tackled him.”

The Story County Sheriff’s Office has identified the escapee as 18-year old Bernard Henry Watley. He’s charged with disarming or attempt to disarm police, escape from custody, interference with official acts, theft, and harassment.

MUNCIE, Ind. — A convicted criminal with an extremely violent past was able to pass a federal background check by filling it with lies, then nearly killed his landlord.

The night of the shooting

It was a quiet Saturday night in Muncie.  Tony Ong, the manager of a small apartment complex, walked outside to greet tenants. Ong is known to be friendly and caring, not a typical manager who hounds tenants for their rent.

Ong said he had a brief conversation with a man known to him as Rodney Patterson.

“He was getting ready to walk into his apartment and I asked him, ‘Hey, Rodney. Are you coming down to pay rent now?’”

Minutes later, Patterson snapped. Ong never thought a simple question could lead to such violence. Patterson turned around and shot Ong right in the chest.

“I didn’t see what was in his hand. All I did was see a flash, felt a pain in my chest,” Ong said.

In dramatic calls to 911, Ong can be heard gasping for air, not believing he had much time to hold on.

“I can’t do much of anything (cough) It’s right in the chest,” Ong said to the dispatcher.

Body cam video from Muncie Police Officer Chase Winkle showed a quick response, less than two minutes to Ong’s apartment. Winkle knocked on Ong’s door, and Ong answered, holding his chest tight.

Officer Winkle used his two fingers and shoved them into the bullet hole in the middle of Ong’s chest to stop the bleeding. It was a desperate attempt to save the man’s life and it worked.

Ong was quickly rushed to the hospital where he spent more than a month in the ICU. He was in a coma for about two weeks. At first, his prognosis didn’t look good.

“The police and doctors were both amazed that I survived, because like I said, dead center through my chest. It missed my heart by about an inch,” Ong said.

Back at the apartment, Ong’s assailant was barricaded and ready for battle.

“We found him behind the door. He was wearing a helmet, a motorcycle type helmet, a lot of thick clothing along with two firearms and some knives,” said Muncie Police Detective Nathan Sloan.

Patterson is a man with a shaded past. He’s also known as Kenan Abraman, but he had his name legally changed at some point. He was previously convicted of multiple felonies and was declared legally insane. He was in possession of not one, but two guns.

“He purchased those firearms and within six hours had shot his landlord,” Sloan said.

The gun purchases

Six hours before the shooting, Abraman walked into a Rural King in Muncie. He quickly browsed the shelves and filled out a federal background check form. The clerk submitted the form, unaware of Abraman’s criminal history and the fact the form was filled with lies.

The background check cleared.

Minutes later, he can be seen on surveillance video walking out of the store with two handguns, both black 9mm pistols.

The background check form

WTTV obtained a copy of Abraman’s form, also known as a 4473. The form asks for basic information such as name, address, and date of birth.

There’s also a “yes or no” questionnaire that should flag anyone not legally allowed to possess or buy a gun.

Abraman checked “no” on multiple questions on his form, meaning he lied on a federal document.

Question 11-C asks if the person filling out the form has ever been convicted of a felony. On the box, Abraman checked “no.” Abraman has been convicted of multiple felony crimes in the past.

Another section includes a space to provide an optional social security number. Investigators said the one Abraman wrote down was fake. It doesn’t match his name.

“We’ve had several instances where he’s provided false information about who he was,” Sloan said.

Copy of Abraman’s firearms transaction record here.

Abraman’s criminal history

Throughout his life, Abraman has been accused of a handful of crimes in both Howard and Delaware Counties.

He was once charged with theft for stealing an elderly woman’s purse. In 2009, he was convicted of felony criminal recklessness in Howard County for stabbing his sister.

WTTV obtained surveillance video from another case in 2015 showing Amraman and a Walmart manager wrestling with multiple knives. Police said the manager was stabbed. In that case, a jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity. Abraman was ordered to enter a mental health facility.

On Indiana’s Department of Corrections website, Abraman, listed at Rodney Patterson, shows multiple felony sentences including; theft in Howard County in 2011; robbery in Howard County in 1995; and theft in Howard County in 1993.

How he passed the background check

It’s still unclear exactly how Abraman passed the background check. The document sent from the FBI back to Rural King showed a check in the box marked “proceed.”

“They operate off the information that’s provided to them and apparently this time, it slipped through the cracks,” Sloan said. “Given his past and what we knew about him, he shouldn’t have been able to obtain these guns.”

In Indiana, when someone fills out a background check form, it’s sent straight from the gun retailer to the FBI. The FBI uses a system called NICS to run the background check. NICS searches a national and statewide database. Indiana’s database is called IDAC.

According to Indiana State Police Captain Dave Bursten, their system was up to date. When experts with ISP checked, Bursten said Abraman’s background check came back showing multiple felony convictions. Their system also linked both names— Kenan Abraman and Rodney Patterson.

“By and large, our system works properly. The information was there and why it wasn’t found, that’s a question for the FBI,” Bursten said.

The FBI declined to answer any questions about this specific case. A representative in the criminal justice services division said releasing any information about background checks would be a violation of the federal privacy act.

It’s also unclear why the fake social security number entered didn’t raise a red flag, which wouldn’t have matched either name. NICS users can submit any amount or all information provided on the federal firearms background check form.

In this case, investigators believe the employees at Rural King aren’t at fault. Rural King declined to provide comment on the case.

Flawed system

“If somebody is determined to beat the system and is resourceful enough and is willing to tell the right kind of lies, the system can be defeated,” Bursten said.

As a formal federal prosecutor, Mark Stuaan has tried a number of cases where convicted felons have gotten hold of guns. He’s not involved in this case but said he knows human error can exist.

“Even a perfect background check system isn’t going to stop everybody who should not have a gun, from getting a gun,” Stuaan said. He added, “How do we make it so that both those who lawfully possess firearms can do so if they want, and we’ve done as much to make sure those that do not have guns, don’t get them.”

Years in prison

In April, a judge in Delaware County sentenced Kenan Abraman for the attempted murder of Tony Ong.

He’s expected to be in prison until 2047, which would make him 74-years-old by the time he’s released. Right now, he’s being treated in the Indiana Department of Corrections psychiatric wing.

Moving forward

For Tony Ong, the lack of answers is frustrating. “He knew what he was doing was wrong,” Ong said.

After months of treatment to fix his physical wounds, Ong is still undergoing therapy to fix the emotional scars caused by the shooting.

He said while he can’t hate Abraman for what he’s done, he’s hoping someone will be held responsible for letting the convicted criminal pass a background check. He’s asking for a change to make sure no one else slips through the cracks.

“I’m lucky I survived, I am,” Ong said.

JOHNSTON, Iowa–The six Iowa Democrats running for governor mixed it up at times, with most of it involving the perceived front-runner Fred Hubbell, during their only live, televised statewide debate of the campaign Wednesday night at Iowa Public Television in Johnston.

Cathy Glasson, a former nurse and union activist; Nate Boulton, a Des Moines state senator; and John Norris, the former chair of the Iowa Utilities Board, all criticized Hubbell, a former business leader and philanthropist.

Glasson pointed out that Hubbell gave campaign donations to State Representative Peter Cownie, a West Des Moines Republican. Hubbell defended the donations and said that while he disagreed with Cownie’s vote to help ban most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected (the main point of Glasson’s criticism), Hubbell said he considers the Cownies to be family friends.

Boulton and Norris criticized Hubbell for his four-month stint in 2010 as interim Director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development during Governor Chet Culver’s administration. As director, Hubbell helped oversee millions in tax credits to businesses. Democrats these days have been especially critical of tax credits as their use has increased and the state budget has been strained at a time of several emergency spending cuts over the past two years. Hubbell has said, as governor, he would limit the use of tax credits and review them to determine which ones should be discontinued.

Andy McGuire, a Des Moines physician, and Ross Wilburn, former mayor of Iowa City, avoided criticizing fellow candidates. McGuire stressed her experience in health care and pledged to restore full funding for programs delivered by Planned Parenthood. Wilburn called for more efforts to fight sex trafficking.

All of the Democrats pledged to repeal the fetal heartbeat bill, the Republican-led effort to ban most abortions after a heartbeat can be detected, which is generally around six weeks of gestation. They also promised to undo Republican actions to privatize Medicaid delivery services.

Only Norris and Wilburn promised to repeal the Republican tax reform package passed during the recently concluded legislative session.

Watch the full debate here. 

An “out-of-this-world flavor combination” is coming to a grocery store near you.

Driscoll’s says it is launching a new berry: the braspberry!

The fruit combo, which is a blueberry inside of a raspberry, was inspired by Justin Timberlake who coined the term in a video he posted on social media several months ago.

Driscoll’s posted on its Instagram page: “New berry launch! Fresh from the farm, #Braspberries are an out of this world flavor combination! @justintimberlake, be on the lookout in a grocery store near you.”

The creation is handpicked and handstuffed, so “Driscoll’s is working quickly to look for ways to scale for potential retail sales,” a spokesperson told Food & Wine.

URBANDALE, Iowa  —  On Tuesday, communities around the country honored the lives of police officers killed in the line of duty, and residents in Urbandale held a Peace Officers Memorial Service to remember the lives lost in the metro.

Officer Justin Martin’s life and the lives of all fallen officers were honored at a ceremony inside the New Hope Assembly Church. Honor Guards from around the metro took part in the memorial service, which included a gun salute and a playing of ‘Taps’ and bagpipes.

Twenty-four-year-old Justin Martin was shot and killed on November 2nd, 2016. After Tuesday’s service, Channel 13 spoke with Randy and Jayne Martin about the loss of their oldest son. They said they feel the community’s love and support, and it helps them a lot.

“Somebody asked me once if I considered my son a hero, and I said anybody who puts their life in danger on a daily basis is a hero,” said Jayne.

“I just think it was great they honored all police officers,” said Randy. “Every time I hear on the radio or the news that another officer has been killed in the line of duty, it breaks my heart. I usually write a letter to the family, telling them that, you know, who we are and that we are with them, we understand their pain.”

The Martins say Justin is watching from Heaven, looking down on all of us at all times, and that they can feel his presence and notice him sending them signs.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Des Moines police want to honor their fallen officers with a special memorial garden.

A living memorial was designed to go outside of the Des Moines Police Station. Officers began a GoFundMe page to raise $240,000 to build it, and so far almost $2,500 has been pledged.

There is talk of moving the police department, but when asked about this potential issue on social media, police said the memorial structures would be transportable.

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