1101 10th Ave.
Fort Dodge, IA
Date of Crime: May 8, 2011
Date of Death: January 22, 2012
UPDATE: More than a year after Brandyn Preston was shot, and nearly six months after he died as a result, police have arrested a suspect in the case.
Derrick J. McElroy, 26, of Fort Dodge, has been charged with first-degree murder.
Read the full story
On Sunday, May 8, 2011 — Mother’s Day — Brandyn Preston of Fort Dodge was shot in the neck while attending a bonfire party in the back yard at 1101 10th Ave. SW in Fort Dodge.
- Webster County in Iowa
Fort Dodge in Webster County
Preston, 19, was taken to Trinity Regional Medical Center just after 4 a.m. and then transferred to Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines.
The bullet lodged in Preston’s spinal cord, leaving the basketball enthusiast paralyzed from the neck down and dependent on a ventilator to breathe.
Despite a number of individuals present when Brandyn Preston was shot, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Larry Hedlund said it didn’t mean they necessarily saw what happened. Nor did officials have any evidence indicating the bullet was meant for Preston. According to Hedlund, investigators felt Preston’s shooting resulted from an ongoing feud between other individuals.
Preston had been in Fort Dodge about six months, his father, Pat Preston, told the Fort Dodge Messenger in an article published September 4, 2011. After getting his GED, the 6 foot 7 Preston planned to try out for the Iowa Central Community College basketball team.
Instead, the teen ended up in a Nebraska rehabilitation center until August, 2011, when his mother, Kimberly Wood, moved him back to Tampa Bay where she could care for him.
- Courtesy photo Edmund D. Fountain, Tampa Bay Times
- Brandyn Preston with his mother, Kim Wood, spent time in Kindred Hospital in Tampa.
Wood and her husband, Donovan Wood, who’d raised Preston, hoped military benefits would help pay for a home nurse; Donovan Wood was an Iraq War Bronze Star recipient. But, with him now working in the private section, benefits were limited. The family finally got Medicaid to approve a home health care nurse, but was unable to find one willing to work with Preston due to the ventilator.
Kimberly Wood quit her job as a patient service representative at CVS-Caremark to care for her son full-time.
Anonymous Donor Provides Rewards
Like Lisa McCuddin, also of Fort Dodge, Preston was shot while engaged in everyday activities. McCuddin was shot on October 2, 2004, while riding in the passenger seat of a vehicle.
In efforts to encourage those with information to come forward, an anonymous donor provided Crime Stoppers with $10,000 for two $5,000 rewards for information leading to the arrests and convictions of those responsible in the McCuddin and Preston cases.
Said Fort Dodge Police Chief Tim Carmody of the rewards:
“If you know something about an incident that would get a violent person off the street and you don’t take action on that and don’t share that information, how are you going to feel when your loved one is injured as a result of their actions later?”
“You have the opportunity to prevent something like that from happening again. This is our community. We decide how it’s governed. But we have to have the participation cooperation and partnership of the citizens to make it happen.”
Officials believed witnesses were afraid to come forward out of fear of being a snitch.
- Courtesy photo KCCI Channel 8 News
- Brandyn Preston was shot May 8, 2011, in the back yard of this Fort Dodge home located at 1101 10th Avenue. His spinal cord severed, he died in Florida on January 22, 2012.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s Special Agent Larry Hedlund said people know what happened to McCuddin the night of her shooting, but won’t come forward due to fear.
“They know who the shooter is,” Hedlund told the Messenger. “They know he’s a violent person. Justifiably, understandably, I’m sure that’s part of it,” he said. “Part of it may just be a mindset ‘we don’t cooperate with the police; we don’t snitch.’”
Knowing something and being able to prove it in a court of law is a whole different standard, Carmody said, which is why they need help from those who know what happened. That information makes up the extra puzzle pieces they need to put the whole picture together. They hope the rewards might persuade those who know something to come forward it both McCuddin’s and Preston’s cases.
Officials stressed that informants need not identify him- or herself. Tips can be texted or submitted through Crime Stoppers.
A “tragic waste of life”
On Sunday, January 22, 2012 Brandyn Preston passed away in Tampa, Florida, where his family had taken him for longterm care.
Fort Dodge Police Chief Tim Carmody said in a press release about Preston’s death:
“Our condolences go out to Brandy’s family and friends. We are confident that there are those in our community that have specific information that would help us to provide closure for Brandy’s family and friends and to get the suspect(s) off the streets.”
“As you may or may not know, the Webster County Crime Stoppers has posted a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible in this case. It is the hope of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Webster County Attorney’s Office, the Fort Dodge Police Department and our community that if the $5,000 Crime Stoppers reward doesn’t motivate those who know the truth to do the right thing, perhaps the memory of Brandyn Preston will.”
Said Hedlund about Preston’s death: “It’s a tragic waste of life that shouldn’t have happened. It’s a tragedy for him, and a tragedy for his family.”
About Brandyn Preston
Brandyn Preston was born in Rolla, Missouri, on October 25, 1991, and grew up with his mother and stepfather. He was a basketball standout while attending Waynesville High School in Missouri, before moving to Tampa where he attended East Bay and Robinson High School.
He was Baptist by Faith.
In 2011, he made what his mother, Kimberly Wood, called a “personal journey” back to Iowa to learn more about his biological father and his father’s side of the family. There, he not only found his father, but his paternal grandmother and half-siblings.
He is survived by his loving mother Kimberly & Donovan Wood of Tampa; father, Patrick Preston and Valerie Newsome of Ft. Dodge, Iowa; sisters Brittany, Samantha, Tayloren and A’Jianna; brothers Christopher, Patrick, Deshawn, Anthony, Kameron, Kaden, Kayden, Jacori, and Nick; maternal grandparents Cheryl and Martin Wendel, Lawrence Wood and Diane Wood-Medley; paternal grandmother Mattie Preston; and aunts, uncles and cousins.
He was preceded in death by Lemon B. Preston and Eugene Preston.
Visitation was February 3, 2012 at Brewer & Sons Funeral Home, 3328 S. Dale Mabry Hwy in Tampa, from 4 – 6 p.m., with services at 6 p.m.
If you have any information regarding Brandyn Preston’s murder, please contact the Fort Dodge Police Detective Steve Hanson at (515) 573-1426, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Jim Thiele at (515) 972-4100, or Crime Stoppers at (515) 573-1444. You may also submit a tip online at www.wccrimestoppers.com, text “LEC” with the tip to CRIMES (274637), or direct your information to Iowa Cold Cases via our Contact form.
- Fort Dodge Police Department
- “McElroy trial set for May 2013: Faces murder charge in Preston death,” The Messenger, Oct. 3, 2012
- “McElroy trial moved back,” The Messenger, Sept. 24, 2012
- “McElroy pleads not guilty to murder: Fort Dodge man accused in death of Brandyn Preston,” The Messenger, Aug. 3, 2012
- Brewer & Sons Funeral Home
- “McElroy held on $1million bond: Accused faces first-degree murder in Preston shooting,” The Messenger, July 14, 2012
- “McElroy held on $1 million cash bond: Preliminary hearing set for July 20,” The Messenger, July 13, 2012
- “McElroy arrested in Preston murder,” The Messenger, July 12, 2012
- “McElroy charged in Preston death: FD man, 26, faces first-degree murder charge,” The Messenger, July 12, 2012
- “Crime Stoppers snags local most wanted,” The Messenger, March 8, 2012
- “BRANDYN PRESTON Obituary,” The Messenger, January 27, 2012
- “Victim of Fort Dodge shooting dies in Florida,” Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Jan. 26, 2012
- “POLICE PLEA: Fort Dodge Police are asking the public for information on a May 2011 shooting, after the victim died over the weekend,” WHO-TV Channel 13 Des Moines, Jan. 25, 2012
- “FD Teen Dies of Gun Shot Wound,” Fort Dodge Press, Jan. 25, 2012
- “DCI, FDPD still seeking Preston shooter,” The (Fort Dodge) Messenger, Jan. 25, 2012
- “Brandyn Preston dies Sunday: Was paralyzed in a drive-by shooting on May 8, 2011,” The Fort Dodge Messenger, January 24, 2012
- “Mother works to help her son after paralyzing accident,” The Tampa Bay Times, Dec. 21, 2011
- “Crime Stoppers helps solve cases: Group offers $5,000 rewards in shootings,” The Fort Dodge Messenger, September 4, 2011
- “Father: Preston has ‘come a long ways’ since shooting,” The Fort Dodge Messenger, May 13, 2011
- “FDPD aims to stop gunshots,” The Fort Dodge Messenger,” May 13, 2011
- “Update on Teen Shot in Neck During Party,” KCCI Channel 8 Des Moines, May 9, 2011
- “Fort Dodge Shooting,” MyFortDodge.com, May 9, 2011
- “Teenager shot in Fort Dodge, police say,” Des Moines Register, May 8, 2011
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