Benton Wingrove
Benton Wingrove
March 26, 2013

Benton Wingrove picked a fight with another man in a Dow City bar this month, and when the two decided to take the argument outdoors, Wingrove went to the bar's cash register, pulled a handgun from the waist of his pants and put it under the register, a witness told investigators.

Wingrove, 27, followed his adversary, Adam Lary, 29, out of the bar Cheers, which is just off of U.S Highway 30, about 1 a.m. on March 16. Wingrove returned about 10 minutes later, court records show. He breathed heavily. It's unclear whether he was injured.

The bartender who saw Wingrove stow the handgun near the cash register told investigators he did not see Wingrove retrieve the weapon. The bartender also said he did not know what the two Dow City men had argued about.

Wingrove left a short time later, and witnesses reported that they heard a flurry of gunshots and a car engine revving.

Wingrove called 911 at about 1:40 a.m. and told a county dispatcher: "I just shot my pistol at a car that swerved."

But court records show that investigators found at least 15 bullet casings in the 300 block of Maple Street, which is several blocks from the bar and close to Lary's house. The shots struck Lary's Ford Taurus in several spots. Investigators retrieved bullet fragments from the rear door on the driver's side of the car and from the driver's seat, court records show.

Lary's car crashed into a garage about two blocks from where Wingrove allegedly shot at the car. Lary was taken to Crawford County Memorial Hospital in Denison, where he was pronounced dead at 2:20 a.m.

The bullet that killed Lary struck him in the chest, according to a State Medical Examiner's autopsy.

Wingrove stood along U.S. Highway 30 and waited for a Crawford County sheriff's deputy to arrive after the shooting, the deputy wrote in a report of the incident. Wingrove's handgun, a .40-caliber Springfield, lay nearby on the ground. Court records show the gun's magazine can hold up to 16 bullets.

A witness told investigators that Wingrove threatened to hurt the witness via the online social-networking site Facebook shortly before the shooting. It's unclear how that witness might be tied to Wingrove's altercation with Lary.

Wingrove obtained a permit to openly carry the gun in public in November 2011, according to the sheriff's office. Iowa lawmakers made significant changes that year to the Iowa Code that stripped sheriffs of much of their discretion over who gets a permit. The new law also allows permit holders to carry a loaded weapon in public places and in vehicles.

It does, however, restrict permit holders from carrying the weapons if their blood-alcohol concentration exceeds .08 percent - the legal limit to drive.

Wingrove is charged with first-degree murder and going armed with intent. He is held on $1 million bond at Crawford County Jail.

His permit to carry a weapon was revoked.