Boone County Sheriff Stands Behind Employee Being Investigated in State Fairground Gun Incident

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The head of the Iowa State Fairgrounds Police force says charges are still possible against a Boone County Sheriff's Office employee accused of pointing a gun at a crowd of people while intoxicated.

Witnesses say off-duty Boone County Jailer John Mccormick pulled out his gun during the Goodguys Car Show on Saturday after a 69-year-old man performed a "burn out" stunt nearby.

“The guy who claimed to be a deputy sheriff was like a should kill ya. Next the old man said, ‘why don't you do it’ and the man pulled out a gun out of his right pocket,” an anonymous witness to the incident said.

In a statement, Boone County Sheriff Gregg Elsberry said John Mccormick is an employee of his but he is not a deputy sheriff he is a civilian jailer and there’s more to the story.

Here’s his statement in full:

"In response to the incident that occurred at the Iowa State Fair.

John McCormick is an employee of mine. News media portrayed him as a Deputy Sheriff. He is not. John is a civilian jailer, and a very good one.

This incident is between John McCormick and the Iowa State Fairgrounds. No charges were filed on John and no charges were filed on the other man. Upon reviewing police reports and John McCormick’s statement he gave me, there is no evidence of any policy infractions that would affect his employment status.

The head line of this story is about a gun and a Sheriff’s Office. It doesn’t mention the other parties involved. It doesn’t mention the three times the other party drove in a reckless manner. According to reports, several people were yelling at this person, as his driving was reckless and endangering the people in the area. The news reports don’t mention that John was punched three times and became surrounded with associates of the other party involved. It doesn’t mention within that crowd, someone was holding a knife.

No charges were filed and John did come talk to me about the incident immediately."

At this time. This incident is between him and Iowa State Fairgrounds. There is no evidence yet to reveal any conduct that would affect his employment with the Sheriff’s Office.

Gregg Elsberry

Boone County Sheriff

Weapons of any kind are prohibited on the Iowa State Fairground property and witnesses say McCormick was kicked out and his gun was taken.

“You’re not supposed to have a gun in a gun free zone let alone this man was intoxicated. I mean he was so intoxicated I don't think he knows what was going on,” an anonymous witness to the incident said.

Iowa law states in chapter 724.4C a person commits a serious misdemeanor if the person is intoxicated and the person carries a dangerous weapon on or about the person. But it doesn’t apply if the weapon is used during an act of justified self-defense or justified defense of another, provided that the possession lasts no longer than is immediately necessary to resolve the emergency.

Iowa State Fairground Police Commander Doug Phillips said they did not breathalyze anyone involved.

“Based on when we responded to the scene it was obvious that everyone had obviously had a drink or two and our observations didn’t indicate that anyone at the scene was to a point where we felt they were completely intoxicated or not in control of their faculties. So based on that alone we didn’t feel it was necessary to give breathalyzer tests to everybody involved,” Phillips said.

Sheriff Elsberry said no one has been charged with any crime as a result of the incident.

“Because it’s just that. It’s a policy. At that point a law had not been broken,” Phillips said.

Elsberry said, “There is no evidence yet to reveal any conduct that would affect his [McCormick’s] employment with the Sheriff’s Office.”

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