Sheriff investigates two separate ‘shots fired’ reports

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 6/24/20

BELLE — The Maries County Sheriff’s deputies responded to two separate reports of shots fired on June 17 and 18 within an eight-hour period.

“One arrest was made and charges may …

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Sheriff investigates two separate ‘shots fired’ reports

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BELLE — The Maries County Sheriff’s deputies responded to two separate reports of shots fired on June 17 and 18 within an eight-hour period.

“One arrest was made and charges may be filed at a later date,” said Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman on Friday.

“Later” has already arrived for one of the suspects, David Robert Alan Jorgensen, 25, of Belle, who was charged June 18 with the class E felony alleging unlawful use of a weapon (loaded weapon while intoxicated) and a class B misdemeanor property damage (second offense). The passenger in the vehicle, a 25-year-old Belle man, was released and has not been charged.

According to the probable cause statement, two men in a tan-colored, single-cab truck were reported in the evening hours of June 17 for shooting road signs from a moving vehicle within Belle city limits. Belle Division’s Deputy Bret Turnbough responded to the call.

Turnbough was dispatched to respond to Owens Towing on First Street in Belle for reports that a male was discharging a firearm out of the passenger-side window near the intersection of Highway 28 and Route EE. He spoke with one of the owners, Andrew Brown.

“Mr. Brown informed me that he observed a beige in color, early 2000 model Ford pickup, a single cab, traveling down First Street,” Turnbough said in his police report. “He stated the vehicle was speeding while the passenger was basically hanging out the window.”

According to the report, Brown stated that the vehicle pulled up to the intersection and then he observed a camouflaged shotgun emerge from the passenger window and heard a gunshot from what appeared to be a shotgun. The vehicle then traveled eastbound on Highway 28 toward Bland. Brown thought the subjects appeared to be around the same age as the deputy.

Turnbough reported that he went to the intersection and discovered fresh pellet holes in one of the signs that would be consistent with birdshot from a shotgun and the distance from where the firearm was discharged.

“Approximately one hour later, I was informed that Gasconade County Sheriff’s Office and the Owensville Police Department had the above vehicle pulled over and a camouflaged shotgun was located in the vehicle,” Turnbough said in the probable cause statement. “I responded to the scene and came in contact with two male subjects.”

The two subjects, one of them was Jorgensen, were identified. Turnbough informed Jorgensen of his Miranda Rights, which he waived and understood, adding that he didn’t shoot the shotgun tonight but he did last night. He also said he had been drinking and that he is going through a recent break-up and made comments like “birdshot wouldn’t do anything and that it’s not like it’s a double -aught buckshot.”

“Jorgensen also consented to a search of the vehicle and told me that he has a camouflage shotgun,” Turnbough said. “It should be noted during the interview I determined that Jorgensen was intoxicated and was going to conduct another interview later when he is sober.”

A gunshot residue kit was conducted at the scene on both Jorgensen’s hands, at which time Jorgensen said it would be positive because he had used the shotgun earlier in the day to kill an animal.

The passenger was also informed of, understood, and waived his Miranda Rights.

“(The passenger) was giggling and laughing during the course of the interview,” Turnbough said in the probable cause statement. “He basically admitted that Jorgensen did it without admitting it to me.”

Turnbough located and seized a camouflaged 12-gauge shotgun in the passenger seat of the vehicle, described as a Mossberg 12-gauge pump action.

Jorgensen and his passenger were both taken into custody and Owen’s Towing arrived to tow the vehicle to the impound, to possibly locate more evidence for the case.

“Mr. Brown informed me that this was the vehicle he saw earlier and that Jorgensen looked like the male who discharged the firearm,” Turnbough said.

During a second interview with the passenger at the Maries County Sheriff’s Office, under Miranda rights again, he showed a bruise and stated that he got the injury from taking the shotgun away from Jorgensen. The passenger also reported Jorgensen fired the shotgun in town, that he physically took it away from Jorgensen and placed it behind the seat, and that he didn’t know Jorgensen was going to fire the gun in town.

The passenger was booked and released. Jorgensen was held at the Maries County Jail until his bond hearing took place at 9: 30 a.m. on Tuesday. He has since bonded and is expected to appear July 7 in Judge Kerry G. Rowden’s Maries County Court.

A second report of shots fired was reported around 2 a.m. on June 18 and was discovered to be a homeowner who believed he heard people in his woods behind his home. All four residents of the home went outside, challenged the person(s) to identify themselves, and when no one answered they fired “warning shots” into the woods.

The sheriff’s department issued a Facebook release saying, “this is a very scary incident for all involved. It is never okay to fire indiscriminately into the woods or any area where vision is obstruction. You should always know what you are shooting at and are never authorized to use deadly force to protect property,” Heitman said. “The castle doctrine, which the homeowner referenced, does not give blanket protection to use deadly force on your property.”

At least one of the bullets fired hit a neighboring residence causing property damage.

“Folks, it is just stuff,” Heitman said on Facebook. “Everything we own can be replaced. Human lives can not. Do not let a mistake cost someone their life or yours, for that matter. Your chainsaw will be safe, while you spend 30 or more years in prison.”

Heitman later commented about both incidents to The Advocate.

“Thank God no one was struck or injured,” he said. “Both parties made poor judgment decisions and both parties have learned what the consequences could be. The neighbors who fired the weapons agreed to pay for the property damage and no criminal charges are being sought.”

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