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Fleeing suspect shot, killed

March 17, 2002

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Fleeing suspect shot, killed

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March 16, 2002

By Angela Wilson

A man under surveillance during a burglary investigation was shot and killed Friday night after he tried to run down at least one Greene County Sheriff’s Department detective, authorities said.

The suspect, whose name was not released Friday night, possessed several IDs, making it tough for investigators to make a positive identification, Sheriff Jack Merritt said.

Two detectives were put on paid administrative leave until the Springfield Police Department concludes an investigation into the incident. They received counseling immediately following the incident, standard procedure during traumatic situations.

“It’s scary for me and I can’t imagine what it was like for them,” Merritt said.

The man shot was suspected in a burglary earlier this month in which $15,000 to $20,000 in household goods were stolen from a storage facility in southern Springfield, Merritt said.

The shooting occurred around 6 p.m. after the detectives followed the suspect and saw him turn his white pickup truck into the James River Plaza at 1304 E. Republic Road.

After the suspect went inside one of the businesses, the detectives pulled their red Jeep behind his truck to keep him from leaving.

The suspect came out of the business and saw one of the officers standing between the Jeep and the truck.

Before the suspect got into his vehicle, the detectives identified themselves as police, Merritt said. “They were yelling, ‘You’re under arrest,’” Merritt said.

The suspect got into his truck, put it in reverse and hit the gas, almost hitting the detective between the vehicles, Merritt said.

The officers fired an unknown number of shots and struck the man. At the scene Friday night, bullet holes were visible in the truck’s back and driver’s side windows.

Authorities wouldn’t say whether the suspect had a gun.

David Brown, investigator with the Greene County Medical Examiner’s Office, said the suspect suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the upper torso. He was taken by ambulance to nearby Cox Medical Center South, where he was pronounced dead at 6:40 p.m., Brown said. An autopsy will be conducted today, he said.

Bystanders at the scene Friday night were taken aback by the mayhem that broke out in the commercial district just east of National Avenue on Republic Road.

“I didn’t know what to think,” said Lauren Beadles, 19, of Ozark, who arrived at Papa John’s in the plaza to eat pizza just after the incident occurred.

With officers photographing the scene and rummaging for evidence through the vehicles involved in the incident, Merritt said Friday night that preliminary investigations indicated that the detectives followed proper procedure. Deputies are allowed to use force if lives are being threatened.

“Any time the life of any person or of the officers is threatened, they certainly have the right to use that force,” Merritt said.

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