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Sheriff releases name of deputy in gunfight, praises his 'great courage'

Sheriff releases name of deputy in gunfight, praises his 'great courage'

Dave Drew presser

Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew on Tuesday said he would continue to screen for weapons in the Woodbury County Courthouse and said county supervisors were protecting political capital when voting to end the county ban on weapons on county property.

SIOUX CITY | Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew praised deputy Mike Lenz for his actions in a shootout with an armed suspect following a high-speed chase early Sunday morning.

"Instead of planning a funeral, we are holding a press conference about a deputy who showed great courage and survival instincts," Drew told reporters Wednesday.

Melvin William Spencer, 24, of Sioux City, has been charged with attempted murder. An unidentified male who was a passenger in the vehicle was shot during the gunfire and is being treated at a local hospital for what authorities describe as non-life threatening wounds.

"I cannot release (the gunshot victim's) name because there are no charges pending," Drew said. "I can't get into what (his) role was."

Brittney Lynn Hood, 27, of Sioux City, who was driving the vehicle when the pursuit began, faces a handful of charges, including eluding authorities. 

Drew said at 3:24 a.m. Sunday, deputy Troy Tadlock attempted to stop a 2009 Lincoln MKZ on 260th near Port Neal Road for traffic violations. The Lincoln, driven by Hood, failed to obey his lights and continued westbound on 260th before turning northbound on Port Neal, reaching speeds of more than 80 mph.

The vehicle then came to a stop north of 235th. Hood fled on foot into a field, chased by Tadlock who apprehended her shortly afterwards.

"Before Deputy Tadlock realizes there were two other suspects in the vehicle, it took off," Drew said, adding Spencer hopped into the driver's seat of the Lincoln, which had tinted windows.

Minutes later, deputy Derek Brand was traveling southbound on Port Neal to assist Tadlock when the Lincoln attempted to hit Brand's patrol car head on, causing him to veer into a ditch.  

Lenz, who was also in route to help, spotted the fleeing vehicle turning onto 225th street and followed it as it turned north on Allison Avenue. The vehicle eventually got stuck in a ditch at a dead end near the Sioux City Police Department's training center at 6602 Allison Ave.

Prior to Lenz exiting his patrol unit, Spencer leaned out of the driver's side window of the Lincoln and engaged the deputy in gunfire. At least five rounds struck the deputy's vehicle. The unnamed male was struck by the gunfire, and Spencer then fled on foot.

Lenz administered first aid to the victim until he was taken to the hospital.

A manhunt ensued and Spencer was spotted three hours later by an Iowa State Patrol plane brought in from Des Moines. After locating him, the sheriff's office used a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle it borrowed from the Sioux City Police Department to move in closer with a tactical team and arrested him.

Drew became choked up as he thanked police departments from Sioux City, Sergeant Bluff and Moville and other agencies who sent officers. He also applauded the Woodbury County dispatcher for staying "calm in the storm."

"When a call comes out like this when a deputy or officer needs assistance, it does not matter what uniform or badge-- with our limited resources-- we all show up for each other," Drew said. "I'm proud of every officer here in northwest Iowa that showed up to help us." 

Lenz, who has been a deputy since September 2014, has been placed on administrative leave and will have counseling and professional help before returning to duty, Drew said. The sheriff added he has spoken with Lenz almost every day since the gunfight. 

"He's doing well. He's a good young man... I told him we need some warmer weather so we can ride our Harleys and get some really good therapy," he said.

Citing an ongoing investigation, Drew would not identify the main victim who was shot, his current medical condition, or whether charges could still be filed against him.

Drew added the dash cam and body camera video of the gunfight will be released at a later date. 

The shooting is being investigated by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Iowa State Patrol and the sheriff's office.

Spencer is currently being held in the Woodbury County Jail on $250,000 bond. Hood is being held on $2,000 bond. 

Spencer and Hood's next court appearance will be 9 a.m. March 9. 


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Crime and general assignment reporter

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