Family of Fayette Co. inmate speaks to KWWL about shooting - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Family of Fayette Co. inmate speaks to KWWL about shooting

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WATERLOO (KWWL) - The family of a man who allegedly grabbed a deputy's gun at a West Union hospital, shot the deputy and turned the gun on himself, is speaking out about inmates with mental illness.

According to authorities, Steven Harreld, 34, was an inmate at the Fayette County Jail when a jailer, who was also a reserve deputy, brought Harreld to Palmer Lutheran Hospital in West Union for medical treatment.

Investigators believe when the jailer, Jeremy Stiefel, removed Harreld's handcuffs, Harreld was able to grab the deputy's gun. 

Reports indicate that on Saturday, Aug. 23, Harreld shot and hurt Stiefel inside the hospital before turning the gun on himself.

On Aug. 26, the Harreld family issued a statement saying they were grateful no one else was hurt, and Harreld struggled to "understand himself and the way he fit into the world around him."

For the first time, the entire Harreld family spoke publicly with KWWL about what they're calling their new mission: To make sure mental health issues are recognized and treated appropriately in the criminal justice system.

"You hear something like this, and it's always happening to someone else," said Laura Harreld, Steven's mother of Strawberry Point.

The Harreld family said they never expected their beloved son and brother, a father of two young girls, to be involved in a hospital shooting.

"We tried for so many years to help in every way that we could, and we couldn't do enough. And that's devastating," said Mark Harreld, Steven's father.

The Harrelds want to raise money to establish a Mobile Crisis Unit in Northeast Iowa to help professionals work with people who struggle with mental illnesses.

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