Bettendorf Police announce suspect in gas station homicide, defend providing limited details to the public

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BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) - A Bettendorf homicide investigation ended with the sole suspect dying by suicide.

Bettendorf Homicide Victim Brittany Wilson (Photo Provided)

According to Bettendorf Police, Manuel Rangel, 21, shot and killed Brittany Wilson when Rangel attempted to rob the Big 10 Mart on 53rd Street on August 17th. Police say hours after the murder, Rangel shot and killed himself following a police chase with Nebraska State Troopers but his crime spree started hours before the murder in Bettendorf.

During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Bettendorf Police Chief Keith Kimball said Rangel used a gun to shoot his way into a Genoa, Il. animal shelter where he took a dog he was having boarded there.

“Upon arrival [at the shelter] it was discovered that not only a burglary occurred but that shots were fired into the door of the kennel and that there was a dog missing, belonging to the suspect,” Kimball said reading from a press release. Kimball said Rangel was “depressed the last few months and was upset over not being allowed to keep his dog at his parent’s house at the request of the landlord. This is why he was forced to board the dog at the kennel and at some point could not afford to pay the bill to get his dog back.”

After fleeing from Genoa, Kimball said video evidence showed Rangel arriving at the Big 10 Mart around 5:30 p.m. According to a timeline of events, Rangel pulled up to the gas pumps, got out and walked around the car and then pulls up to the door where he makes sure “that no other vehicles were in the lot”.

"He went into the rob the place,” Kimball said. “He was an angry individual”

Rangel is reported to than head west into Davenport after killing Wilson before continuing west into Nebraska. On August 18th, Kimball said Rangel’s brother reported him missing and suicidal. Using On-Star police tracked the vehicle Rangel was in to the area of Brule, Nebraska where Rangel led police on a chase. On-Star was able to disable the vehicle, bringing it to a stop. Police say that is when he shot and killed himself.

Kimball said once Rangel was dead, they were able to use cell phone data to connect him to the crime. Kimball said once they had information he was deceased they solved the crime “in three hours”.

"Brittany had nothing to do with this,” Kimball said. “She did not deserve this, she did not bring this upon herself. This was a senseless act, murder."

Bettendorf Police released very few details about the homicide in the weeks leading up to the announcement that they had a suspect, and that he was dead. Kimball said there was a reason for that.

"This is not just a robbery,” he said. “This is a homicide. We get one chance at it. Once we put that information out there, we cannot take it back."

Despite the lack of public information, detectives were working hard to solve the crime. They had video evidence of the suspect, a vehicle description and they knew which way he left the gas station. Kimball said those details were provided to law enforcement nationwide in hopes they would get a lead. They didn’t get one and Kimball said that in itself was a clue that they were likely looking for someone not known to police and not likely known to the victim.

"Murders are a lot harder to solve when it is a random act of violence and the person is not connected to the person,” Kimball said. "He went into the rob the place. He was an angry individual."

What detective did not know was who the suspect. With little to go on except the fact he was seen leaving town, police did not believe there was a risk to the public.

"It was probably the first and last time that he was here,” Kimball said. “I would guess he was only in our city for no more than 10 to 15 minutes."

Kimball said his office is working with law enforcement in Nebraska and Illinois to gather the evidence. Until all of that can be done, the investigation is considered to still be active but police do believe Rangel acted alone.