The fatal shooting of Scott Dingman on May 31, 2021, appears to have been in self-defense, according to the Boulder City Police report recently released to the Boulder City Review.
The 67-page report stated that John Paul Morgan III, admitted to shooting Dingman, telling police officer Anil Sharma, “I f***ed up. I screwed up. That was my best friend,” when he was originally taken into custody at the crime scene.
In Morgan’s initial account of the incident with Detective Brett Wibrew, lead investigator in the case, Morgan told police that he and Dingman had been “drinking pretty heavy” and that after he told Dingman it was time for him to go home. Dingman came at him with a balled fist and his other hand at his lap belt, which was where his loaded 9 mm gun was located.
As they were walking outside, Morgan said he asked Dingman, “You good or do you wanna stay here?” According to the report, Dingman said he was going to drive his motorcycle home and Morgan said he told him he didn’t think that was a good idea and offered him the option of staying at his home for the night.
Dingman declined, spouting profanities.
When Wibrew asked Morgan if he and Dingman had been in a fistfight, Morgan replied that Dingman came toward him with clenched fists and then pulled out his 9 mm pistol and aimed it at his chest. In response, Morgan pulled out his .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol.
According to the report, Morgan said he backed away from Dingman and told him to “back off.” Then, Morgan said Dingman told him “I’ll f***ing kill you.”
“… after which Morgan stated, ‘and that’s when s**t went down,’” Wibrew wrote in the report. “That’s when I shot him, dude.”
Morgan told Wibrew that he shot Dingman “Twice … maybe three” times.
The police report indicated that nine shell casings were recovered at the crime scene. The coroner’s report, which determined Dingman’s cause of death to be homicide, indicated that he had been shot twice, once in the chest that punctured a lung and once in his groin.
After Morgan was taken to the police station and had the opportunity to meet privately with his attorneys, who left before he was questioned again, Morgan retold his recollection of the incident, adding that he offered to give Dingman a ride home in his truck, but Dingman then punched him in the face. Additionally, he said Dingman pushed him and that when Morgan “pleaded for him to stop,” Dingman reached for his gun. The report said that Morgan reached for his own gun, stating “I just f***in’ fired first.”
Morgan also stated that before their disagreement and shooting, he saw Dingman use cocaine. The toxicology report from the coroner’s office showed no cocaine in Dingman’s system, but showed a blood alcohol level of .287.
Morgan’s blood alcohol level, taken about six hours after the shooting, was .094.
The police report also included accounts of Wibrew’s questioning of others to provide insight to the incident, including Carl Suvaco, who calls himself Morgan’s uncle and lives at the residence where the shooting took place.
According to the report, Suvaco was at the residence that night but said he did not witness the shooting. He said he saw the two men get into an altercation inside the home and Dingman punch Morgan in the face. He said Dingman’s demeanor changed as the two men became increasingly intoxicated, drinking a jar of moonshine that Dingman brought with him to Morgan’s house.
Suvaco also stated that after he locked himself in his bedroom to go to sleep, he heard them arguing and some kind of “bangin’ and rustlin’.” After someone tried to get into his room and force the door open, Suvaco said he yelled at that person to leave him alone because he had to go to work in the morning.
Suvaco’s interview in the report further states that was followed by a short period of quiet, some arguing and then the sound of six or seven or more gunshots outside the residence.
When he ran out of his room and met Morgan, Suvaco said Morgan claimed that Dingman attacked him. According to the report, Suvaco also changed his earlier statement that he had witnessed Dingman hit Morgan, instead saying he heard a “smack” followed by Morgan asking Dingman why he punched him in the face.
Video surveillance from Morgan’s residence, obtained by the police department, did not show the exterior or the shooting. It did show the two men exiting the home, Morgan first, with a gun in his hand, followed by Dingman, who was staggering, the report noted.
The person who first called 911 to report the shooting, said they were in the backyard of a home on Pueblo Drive when they heard the yelling between the two. According to the account of the incident, Dingman was walking away from Morgan, who continued to follow him and “closed the distance on the victim.”
The witness “ … saw what appeared to be several muzzle flashes at varying heights (accompanied with banging noises similar to that of fireworks) followed by observing the victim collapsing on the ground,” according to the report.
When asked by Wibrew to provide a written statement of what was witnessed, the person declined further involvement and expressed concerns for their personal safety, the report stated.
According to the report, Ashley Dingman, widow of the victim, stated that her husband had withdrawn $1,000 from their bank account earlier that day. There was no money found on the victim at the time of the shooting.
On July 19, however, Morgan told police that Dingman arrived with two bags of cocaine and that he watched Dingman use both bags off the bathroom counter.
During that interview, Morgan also told police that he was walking away from Dingman during their argument but that Dingman “closed the distance on him and shoved him, causing him to fall backward on the ground,” according to the report.
“Morgan explained that when he fell, his firearm fell out of his waistband either right behind him or right beside him, after which he ‘walked up’ his gunshots at Dingman (due to his shooting Dingman from his position on the ground),” the report stated.
The coroner’s report indicated that both gunshot wounds had a slightly downward trajectory.
The case was submitted to the Clark County district attorney’s office for review on Sept. 30. It determined that “no viable charges can be filed.”
A representative from the Dingman family said they have been advised by their attorney not to speak about the shooting incident at this time.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.