Mt. Sterling shooting victim released from hospital; no charges filed but investigation remains ‘active’

No one is currently in custody nor is there any perceived threat to the general public, according to a sheriff’s investigator about the shooting incident on River Road north of Mt. Sterling on March 13.

“No one is currently in custody. There’s no concern for public safety at this point,” said Gasconade County Sheriff’s Maj. Eric Wilbanks on Tuesday afternoon. “We feel confident in saying that.”

Wilbanks spoke with the shooting victim on Monday. He said the man, 57, has been released from the hospital in Columbia where he was flown last Tuesday night by ARCH air ambulance service. He was at home at his residence off River Road where he is a neighbor to the 32-year-old man who was also injured during the incident.

“I went and spoke with him yesterday,” said Wilbanks of he man who was reportedly shot in the upper leg area.

A full week after the incident, little is being released by the sheriff’s office about the River Road shooting which also left the 32-year-old neighbor injured after being struck in the head at least once with a baseball bat. Owensville Area Ambulance District and Owensville Fire Department personnel from the Mt. Sterling and Owensville stations were dispatched to a residence in the 2500 block of River Road at 8:37 p.m. last Tuesday.

The 32-year-old received an 8-inch gash to his head, according to a family member who spoke to The Republican.

“There were two people injured in this incident,” Wilbanks confirmed.

He confirmed one man was shot. Asked if a second man had been struck with a baseball bat, Wilbanks said, “that will be better disclosed by the sheriff when he gets back in town.”

First-term Sheriff John Romanus was attending a seminar until later this week and was not in the county on Tuesday. 

Romanus spoke to The Republican this past Wednesday but did not offer much insight into the incident. No arrests had been made but two men had been taken into custody during the traffic stop on EE. Paperwork was being prepared that afternoon to be submitted to the prosecuting attorney. 

“They’re neighbors,” said Wilbanks when asked if the incident took place on a private lane off River Road.

Owensville Police Sgt. Scott Griffith said he was dispatched to assist two Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers as they waited for the 32-year-old man and his friend to return to Owensville from the Mt. Sterling area via Route P out of the Bay community.

Wilbanks did not know the age of the third man. Neither of the men were identified by Wilbanks or by the sheriff in a Facebook post late last Tuesday night or in comments to The Republican’s reporter on Thursday morning.

“A traffic stop was conducted and two male suspects were taken into custody related to their alleged involvement in the incident,” Romanus posted to Facebook on March 13. “All parties allegedly involved in the incident have been identified.

“As of the time of this public notice, the names of the parties involved are being withheld pending further investigation. Although this remains an active investigation, there is no known public safety risk at this time related to this ongoing investigation.”

When he spoke to The Republican on Thursday, he said their investigation was ongoing.

“No one has been charged yet,” Romanus said Thursday. “The prosecutor has not filed any charges. That is all up to the prosecutor. We present her with all facts and it’s up to her to charge people with all facts. We’re still putting all the pieces of the puzzle together and it’s still an ongoing process right now. We’re not to the point that I have information I can release.”

Owensville police assist

Owensville police assisted area agencies in a traffic stop that night which resulted in two men being taken into custody.

“I was asked to assist with a felony traffic stop,” said Griffith. 

He said two MSHP cars met the car driven by the man who had been struck with a baseball bat at the city limits on North Oak and followed it through Owensville and out of town on Route EE.

About two miles out of town, Griffith said the troopers initiated the felony stop near a county road. Griffith said lawmen wanted to make the stop outside the city limits in case one of the men inside was still in possession of a weapon alleged to have been used against the 57-year-old man.

Lawmen had been advised by county dispatchers that three children were inside the vehicle in what was described then as a possible “rolling domestic” incident.  

“There were two people in the vehicle and they were taken into custody without incident,” said Griffith. “We got the kids out of car and released them to their grandparents once we got them to the police station.”

Griffith said he was asked to secure the children and take them back into Owensville to the police station. He said the three young children were driven back into town to the station and released to the custody of their paternal grandparents. 

Griffith said the sheriff’s major was among deputies responding to the Route EE scene.

“Nothing to report about the children,” said Wilbanks. “No injuries reported to children.”

Wilbanks said there were no problems during the stop. “None whatsoever,” he said.

The driver of the car which was stopped, went by ambulance to Mercy Hospital Washington for treatment, according to Wil-banks. A family member said he received eight stitches for a laceration which was “open to the skull.”

The Republican was told both men detained in the Route EE traffic stop were held for 24 hours in the Crawford County jail and later released without needing to post a bond.

Asked what sparked the incident, Wilbanks kept his comments close to the vest.

“That will come later,” he said. “At this point it’s theory. I’d hate to speculate.”

Asked if any new information was forthcoming about an incident already a week old, Wilbanks said he was scheduled to meet with the prosecuting attorney, Mary Weston, at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

“I know we’re going to be pushing some stuff out in the next day or two as it’s completed,” Wilbanks said. “The Mt. Sterling deal…we don’t have anything more to release. It’s active. We’re still working on it.”

(With reporting by Roxie Murphy of The Republican’s staff).