Police identify suspect, victim in murder-suicide in southwest Cedar Rapids

Tama County man followed estranged wife home, then killed her, police say

Published: February 24 2014 | 2:06 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 4:04 am in
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UPDATE: What caused a Tama County man described as a happy, friendly, hardworking family man to shoot his wife multiple times before taking his own life?

No one will know what went through Dennis L. Koopman's mind when he killed his estranged wife, LuElla, in front of her Cedar Rapids condominium on Friday, but his mother painted a picture of a man distraught over his pending divorce.

"His heart was broken," Mary Koopman, Dennis' mother, said Monday. "He hurt so bad. He didn't want to let her go ... We just begged him and begged him not to do something stupid."

The couple's children referred questions about their mother to the family's attorney, who did not return a message Monday.

Cedar Rapids police were called to a shooting incident at 6124 Dean Road SW at 4:40 p.m. Friday Responding officers discovered the bodies of 52-year-old LuElla Koopman, of Cedar Rapids, and 54-year-old Dennis Lee Koopman, of Elberon. LuElla lived at the apartment complex where the fatal shooting occurred, police said.

She recently moved there, her mother-in-law said.

The killing marks the fourth murder and second murder-suicide in Cedar Rapids so far this year. Last month, Robert Livingston killed his wife and mother-in-law at his mother-in-law's home in southwest Cedar Rapids.

Police suspect Dennis Koopman either followed his wife to her residence or was waiting there for her to arrive home. After she parked her car, Dennis Koopman allegedly blocked her in with his own vehicle. Dennis Koopman then got out of his vehicle, yelled at LuElla and opened fire with an AR-15 rifle. Police said LuElla was hit multiple times and died.

Dennis then turned the rifle on himself, police said. He was also armed with a handgun, according to police.

Mary Koopman said LuElla asked Dennis for a divorce last month and moved out of the couple's home shortly thereafter. They had been married since 1981, according to their obituaries. Koopman was issued a permit to carry a firearm in July 2011, according to the Tama County Attorney's Office. His mother said Dennis was an avid hunter, who also enjoyed fishing, riding his snowmobile and camping. The couple has five children and nine grandchildren.

According to her obituary, LuElla graduated from Prairie High School in 1978 and was employed by Kirkwood Community College.

In addition to farming, Dennis Koopman did custom baling and grinding as the owner of Dennis Koopman Hay & Forage Service, according to his obituary with Phillips Funeral Home. He served as a 4H leader and an adviser with the Future Farmers of America.

Mary Koopman described her son as a "good family man."

One of the couple's sons-in-law referred all questions to the Koopman's attorney, Jennifer Zahradnik. Zahradnik, who practices in Belle Plaine, did not return a message seeking comment Monday.

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