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Boise police reports show officers were suspicious of mall shooter

Cars are blocked off by caution tape in front of the Target in Boise as police investigate a shooting that took place at the mall.
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Police closed part of N. Milwaukee St. near its intersection with Emerald St. as they investigated a shooting that left two people dead and four others injured last Monday afternoon.

Boise police officers had interactions with Jacob Bergquist this spring that made them suspicious of the suspected gunman in the Boise Towne Square Mall shooting, which left two people dead and four others injured.

The partially-redacted police reports from late April and early May obtained by Boise State Public Radio confirm what Boise Chief of Police Ryan Lee described in the days following the shooting: Bergquist was known to area law enforcement.

“We had contact with him for various different reasons,” Lee told Morning Edition’s George Prentice last week. “Probably the best way to describe most of those contacts would be things such as trespass or disorderly conduct, sort of calls in nature.”

At the time of the shooting, there was no outstanding case or probable cause to arrest Bergquist that police were aware of, Lee said.

On April 27, Boise Police Officer Christopher Zimmer was patrolling downtown on bicycle when he noticed a man he later identified as Bergquist standing at a crosswalk. Bergquist had a shaved head and was wearing a black tank top with the name of his YouTube channel “Guns N Rodents.” Bergquist also had a handgun on his left hip and two additional magazines, according to Zimmer’s report.

Bergquist looked at Zimmer and crossed the street, even though the pedestrian walk signal hadn’t gone off.

This jaywalking violation in front of Zimmer made him suspicious Bergquist was trying to elicit a confrontation. He decided not to approach Bergquist as it was a minor violation and he knew most other city officers were tied up on other calls.

Zimmer looked up the YouTube channel from Bergquist's tank top, where he found videos of Bergquist advocating for the restoration of felons’ rights to possess guns.

“The content of Bergquist's videos also indicates he [is] very racist with a strong dislike towards Central American immigrants,” Zimmer’s report stated.

After viewing the YouTube page with “concerning speech in regards to Bergquist being racist and his dislike for law enforcement,” Zimmer notified other officers working downtown about him. He also said the Idaho State Police had alerted him Bergquist “had been causing disturbances at the Idaho State Capitol Building.”

A separate Idaho State Police report obtained last week by Boise State Public Radio described an incident in the Capitol Building on April 2, in which Bergquist tried to interview Gov. Brad Little about his thoughts on convicted felons being able to carry guns. Bergquist said he was a felon.

Another Boise police officer, Zach Powell, later saw Bergquist outside Jacksons Food Stores on Bogus Basin Road on May 2. Powell reported that Bergquist was wearing the same tank top and had a handgun on his left hip.

Powell also looked up Bergquist’s YouTube channel and looked into his “prohibited possessor status.” Powell learned Bergquist had recently been in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he interacted with a state senator about a statute prohibiting convicted felons from possessing firearms. He also identified a “call for service” from the Walmart in Meridian regarding Bergquist carrying a firearm there.

Powell’s report said, “it is undetermined if Bergquist is a prohibited possessor based on the reading of the Idaho State Code…”

He requested the case to be reviewed by the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office, and that the report be forwarded to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The Ada County Prosecutor’s Office said it followed up on the Idaho State Police request to look into Bergquist’s criminal record, and it determined his felony conviction for theft did not disqualify him from possessing firearms in Idaho.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.

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