Friends shocked by Tekamah, NE man's bizarre death - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Friends shocked by Tekamah, NE man's bizarre death


TEKAMAH, Neb. (KTIV) - New details are surfacing about the Siouxland man who opened fire at police officers at an Omaha hospital Wednesday.

The shooter has been identified as 39-year-old Jeffrey Layten, who lives outside of Tekemah, Nebraska.

A friend of Layten says he believes Layten was distraught about his marital problems and didn't want to live anymore.

An Omaha attorney, who doesn't represent the family, says he has spoken to them over the past 24 hours and says Layten went to Creighton Medical Center so his organs could be donated after his suicide.

Tuesday night, the trouble started.  Authorities say inside the home, once shared by Jeff and Courtney Layten, the husband physically assaulted his wife, then fled with three weapons.  Layton ran a hunting club next to the home.  Courtney's first call wasn't to police, but to her family. 

"She waited to call police because she was told not to call police and she was afraid," said Sheriff Bob Pickell.

When police were alerted an hour later, they learned that Layten had told Courtney he wanted to kill her sister and mother.  He arrived at their homes in the Omaha suburb of La Vista early Wednesday morning.  There, he led police on a high speed chase.  He crashed his pick-up and fled again.  Hours later, inside Creighton University's Medical Center, chaos.  Authorities find Layten, he fires at them and they fire back.  Layton died of gun shot wounds Wednesday afternoon.  It was a bizarre series of events that have many in the town of Tekamah wondering if the problems really began much earlier.

"Also, I think the town's just sad.  You know, it's obviously a sad story that two little kids who lost their dad," said Danny Robinson, whose brother met Jeff Layten four months ago.

The Burt County Sheriff says their case is closed.

"I have no idea what he was doing, and as far as I am concerned, our investigation is done," Pickell explained.

However, the Omaha police have picked up where Burt County left off.  The circumstances of the case have authorities just as perplexed as the people who knew the couple.  Pickell said Layten didn't have a criminal history.  Omaha authorities there are investigating everything from Layten's motives to mental state.  Courtney Layten's father says his son-in-law's actions were out of character. Their friends are equally shocked.

"That's wasn't our Jeff.  I can't say enough positive and wonderful things about the Jeff Layton I know," said family friend Mickie Haney.

She and her husband Tony first met the Laytens five years ago, when they stepped into their bowling alley, and became fast friends.  The Laytens have two young daughters under the age of three.  Understandably, the family is asking for privacy during this difficult time.

"Only the ones who will know are the ones directly involved and I have no idea what happened.  We're just in disbelief," said Tony.

The Haneys say they don't need answers, just the good memories they still have of the couple.  So, as police look for answers, close friends and a community begin the search for closure. 

Reporter: Kristen Johnson

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