High-speed chase and search lands Jefferson man with charges of attempted murder, vehicular burglary

By Brandon Hurley
Managing Editor


A whirlwind of criminal activity, punctuated by a high-speed chase and a city-wide search, has landed a Jefferson man an attempted murder charge.
Zachary Waters-Rice, 25, was busy on the night of May 16 and into the morning hours of the next day, forcing local enforcement officers into a frantic, nerve-wrecking search. Waters-Rice was eventually charged with third degree burglary and fourth degree mischief after using a stolen vehicle as his apparent getaway car.
The 25-year old, who has been previously convicted of violent crimes, first caught the attention of local dispatchers after witnesses reported seeing the suspect reaching into a backpack while on a bicycle and allegedly firing a gun at a moving car in the 700 block of N. Cedar Street around 8:30 p.m. May 16.
An owner of a home on Cedar Street told officers Waters-Rice had been yelling and swearing at him from the street. The resident said he heard an object hit the east side of his house and assumed Waters-Rice had thrown something, court documents say. The owner of the trailer court at 701 N. Cedar Street said they saw Waters-Rice enter the trailer court on a bike before departing the housing complex through another exit. The property owner also said they saw Waters-Rice travel down W. McKinley Street, pull out a gun from his bag and begin loading it.
Two unnamed passengers of a vehicle in that same area said they heard “something ricochet” off their vehicle when the alleged gun shot had occurred. Criminal reports say the passengers believe Waters-Rice fired directly at them and not in the air simply as a scare tactic.
The gun shot initiated a city-wide search for Waters-Rice.

Officers were later informed of a stolen vehicle a few hours after the alleged shooting, shortly before 3 a.m. May 17. Jason Sherlock said his 2004 Chevy Silverado had been stolen from his property along South Mulberry Street. Sherlock told officers there were several firearms inside of the vehicle, according to court documents, including a 1911 handgun, a .22 pump long gun and a .204 high power long gun. Sherlock believed the keys were stolen from a locked garage, which he accused Waters-Rice of breaking into.
Sherlock also provided officers with video footage of Waters-Rice operating a vehicle which “looked similar” to the car Sherlock owned, court documents say.  
A search for the stolen vehicle ensued. An officer was able to track down Waters-Rice roughly 25 minutes later in the 100 block of N. Chestnut Street, at 3:13 a.m.
The officer attempted to halt the vehicle by activating his sirens, but Waters-Rice did not pull over, instead fleeing east onto State Street before accelerating, initiating a high-speed chase. Waters-Rice navigated his way out of Jefferson city limits via Grimmell Road, reaching speeds beyond 50 miles per hour, before traversing gravel roads south of town.
The officer in pursuit eventually lost sight of Waters-Rice on L Avenue south of town due to “dangerous speeds and road conditions.”

During the chase at 3:14 a.m., a citizen reported a male had visited their residence in the 500 block of S. Chestnut and allegedly pointed a gun at another resident. This event seemingly occurred moments prior to officers locating the stolen vehicle. After losing sight of Waters-Rice during the chase, the same officer visited the residence on Cedar Street. The victim said Waters-Rice “would not leave their property and proceeded to point a gun at Gonnelly in a ‘threatening manner.’” Waters-Rice, criminal reports said, did not “verbally communicate” with Gonnelly, though he did point the gun “in a threatening manner.”
Law enforcement then observed documented video of the altercation and realized it was Waters-Rice. Another search began.
A few hours passed without any sight of Waters-Rice before Sherlock, who Waters-Rice allegedly stole his vehicle from, informed officers around 6 a.m. that Waters-Rice had “bragged” to him over the phone about being in a high-speed chase.

A half hour later at 6:31 a.m., the officer who conducted the original pursuit noticed the stolen vehicle was back at Sherlock’s place of residence on Mulberry Street while making another pass. A number of officers, deputies, and an Iowa State Trooper thusly flanked the residence, thanks to cell phone ping had placed Waters-Rice at the residence.
Law enforcement cleared adjacent buildings while they also approached the garage. They located Waters-Rice inside and placed him in custody at 6:59 a.m. They also found four, loaded firearms in the stolen vehicle.
Waters-Rice was charged with a multitude of crimes, including; attempted murder (A Class B Felony), going armed with intent, use of a dangerous weapon in the commission of a crime, dominion control of a firearm by domestic abuser, third degree burglary, operation without owner’s consent, assault while displaying a dangerous weapon, eluding, manner of conveyance of a loaded gun, possession of a controlled substance - marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia along with two counts of probation violation.  
Waters-Rice was also issued traffic citations for driving while suspended, six counts of failure to obey a stop sign, excessive speed, reckless driving, and unsafe passing.
No trial date has been set for the above charges.  

Last week’s whirlwind of criminal charges are the latest in a long-line of violent behavior by Waters-Rice. The 25-year old has been charged – and convicted – for a number of violent crimes in the past.
In 2014, Waters-Rice was found guilty of third degree burglary and fourth degree criminal mischief after stealing a chainsaw and battery charger from a padlocked garage in Jefferson in April of 2016. A one-year jail sentence was suspended.
Waters-Rice was also found guilty of domestic abuse assault and assault after allegedly choking his mom and also punching his brother in the face in 2017 in Paton. Court documents say Waters-Rice visibly punched his brother again after law enforcement arrived, striking his sibling twice in the face before the officer eventually threatened to taze Waters-Rice. He proceeded to threaten the officer after being handcuffed.
The criminal complaint was filed after Waters-Rice allegedly kicked in the garage door at his mother’s home in Paton. Waters-Rice threatened the officer in the patrol car on the way to the Greene County jail, saying he would punch the officer and that he would go to his home and steal from him. He was found guilty of both charges of assault and issued a two year suspended prison sentence. His three year prison sentence was suspended on Nov. 30, 2017 though he did serve 138 days in jail during court proceedings.
Waters-Rice also pled guilty to assault while a child endangerment charge was dropped stemming from an incident in November of 2020 in Humboldt. Waters-Rice allegedly struck his then girlfriend and choked her. He was not sentenced to prison despite the guilty plea.
Waters-Rice was also found guilty of disorderly conduct in October 2021 in Humboldt County after allegedly initiating a fight and throwing a beer can against a garage wall.
Most recently, prior to last week’s criminal mischief, Waters-Rice was charged and convicted for domestic abuse assault for an alleged incident on March 4. The defendant claims Waters-Rice allegedly choked their person and jammed or attempted to “break” their finger. Criminal reports say both the defendant and Waters-Rice were homeless at the time and the two would “hop” around from house to house. Waters-Rice was residing in a home along Lincoln Way at the time of the alleged altercation. All but two days of Waters-Rice’s 90-day prison sentence were suspended.
His current address is listed as a different residence in Jefferson than where he resided in March.

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