ALGONA, Iowa (WCCO) — Authorities in Iowa charged a 17-year-old from the Twin Cities for two store clerk killings at two different convenience stores in north central Iowa overnight.
Michael Richard Swanson of St. Louis Park, Minn., was charged as an adult with two counts each of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in separate slayings at stores in Kossuth and Humboldt counties.
Kossuth County Attorney Todd Holmes said one clerk was shot in the face around 9 p.m. Monday at the Crossroads gas station in Algona.
That victim has been identified as 47-year-old Vicky Bowman-Hall, of Burt, Iowa. According to the charges filed, Swanson entered the convenience store with a loaded handgun and a duffel bag, demanding money and cigarettes from Bowman-Hall, who complied.
Swanson, who was wearing a ski mask at the time, then allegedly shot her in the face. She was pronounced dead at arrival at Kossuth Regional Health Center.
A former boss said Bowman-Hall had 10 kids, ranging in age from 5 to 22.
“She definitely didn’t deserve it,” said her son, John Bowman.
He got the news shortly after it happened.
“It just feels like a nightmare, you know, that you can’t really wake up from,” Bowman said. “There’s going to be a lot of people that will never forget her.”
Holmes said another clerk was shot and killed about 10:30 p.m. at the Kum & Go in Humboldt. The victim in Humboldt, identified as 61-year-old Sheila Myers, was discovered when the person scheduled to work the next shift arrived.
Autopsies on both women will be performed at the State Medical Examiner’s office in Ankeny, Iowa.
The two cities are separated by about 25 miles along Highway 169. Both are west of Mason City.
Swanson, who was driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee, was arrested at a McDonald’s in Webster City, about 60 miles from where the first shooting occurred. He was being held in the Kossuth County jail in Algona and was expected to make an initial court appearance later Tuesday.
“Anytime something like this strikes a community, there is a wake up call that no matter where you are or what you’re doing that safety is your top priority,” Holmes said.
Holmes said it appears Swanson acted alone and that no link was found between the stores where the shootings occurred.
Holmes declined to disclose some details about the shootings, including whether investigators found the gun used in the attacks; whether there were others in the stores at the time of the shootings; whether Swanson had been using drugs or alcohol; or why Swanson was in Iowa.
Hennepin County juvenile court records show Swanson’s mother reported that he stole her Jeep, a cash card and then broke into the family’s cabin in Big Fork, Minn. and stole a rifle. Then booked it to Iowa.
A warrant was issued for his arrest because he was already on probation for stealing a car. He was sent to a Hennepin County juvenile home last July for four months and was released on Nov. 5.
On Nov. 8, he enrolled at St. Louis Park Senior High School.
Police records show multiple calls to his home on Sumter Avenue, including one for shots fired, assault and theft. No specific information was available, however, because the calls involve a juvenile.
If convicted of the first-degree murder, Swanson would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
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