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February 8, 2024

Iowa Attorney General’s Office Concludes Woodbury County Law Enforcement Acted with Legal Justification in Shooting

DES MOINES—In a report issued today, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office has concluded that the October 30, 2023, fatal shooting of Walter Sulsberger by Woodbury County law enforcement was legally justified.

The Attorney General’s conclusion was based on a review and investigation by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. The investigation found that at around 7:00 p.m. on October 29, Sulsberger’s father, Todd, called 911, insisting that his son was going to shoot and kill him. A minute and a half into the call, a gunshot was heard in the background, and communication was lost with Sulsberger’s father. Multiple law enforcement officers then responded to the scene and pleaded with Sulsberger for five and a half hours. During that time, Sulsberger admitted to fatally shooting his father in the head.

Sulsberger, who was heavily intoxicated, also set fires on the property, slaughtered cattle, and positioned himself upon a hill with an illegally modified semi-automatic weapon and cache of ammunition. When asked by his wife and law enforcement to surrender, Sulsberger responded “I don’t think so” after also declaring that there would be “a parade” for any officer who advanced toward him. Armored law enforcement vehicles then approached the hill around 2:45 a.m. on October 30. When Sulsberger opened fire with an automatic weapon, law enforcement returned fire, and a heated gun battle took place. Sulsberger was struck dead by multiple gunshot wounds.

The report is issued under the Attorney General’s independent authority under Iowa Code section 13.12 to investigate or prosecute conduct of law enforcement that results in death.

A copy of the report is available here.


For More Information:

Alyssa Brouillet | Communications Director

(515) 823-9112

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