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Suspect charged in Moberly shooting

Moberly Police chief on Thursday night's shooting
Suspect charged in Moberly shooting

MOBERLY, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Randolph County prosecutor filed charges Friday morning against a Moberly man in connection with a Thursday night shooting.

"We don't usually see things, at least not here in Randolph County, result in that," said Stephanie Luntsford, the Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney.

Luntsford charged Jerry Levey Fitzwater, 79, with first-degree assault, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon.

According to the probable cause statement, the Moberly Police Department was notified of a person who was shot and bleeding in the 300 block of E. Burkhart St. around 8:22 p.m.

Probable cause statement surrounding East Burkhart St. shooting.

When officers arrived they found a man lying in the street who had been shot in the head.

According to a news release, first responders performed life-saving aid on the victim and transported him to University Hospital for treatment.

Officers noticed Fitzwater leaving a residence in the 300 block of E. Burkhart St. and bullets falling from his pocket. When officers searched Fitzwater they located dozens of .22 caliber bullets in his left pocket.

Officials detained several people at the scene, but after conducting an initial investigation, they arrested Fitzwater. After searching his home, officials also found a weapon believed to be the one used in the shooting.

According to the probable cause statement, Fitzwater, in a post Miranda interview, said he did not know who he shot but stated he was a drug dealer who sold drugs to children.

Moberly Police Department chief, Troy Link, said the department had spoken with Fitzwater about his concerns prior to the shooting.

"As I told Mr. Fitzwater last fall, 'If you have information that supports us having opening an investigation into narcotic sales are useless in that property, please provide that to us, but unless you do, I can't refer with anything other than knock of the door and ask hey is this going on,'" Link said.

Fitzwater said he has had problems with the tenants who reside in a nextdoor property he owns in the 300 block of E. Burkhart St. He mentioned seeing the tenants sell drugs from the residence 30 minutes before the shooting. Fitzwater said he "had enough of the criminal activity and nuisances and decided to take care of the situation himself."

Fitzwater said there was a period longer than 5 minutes from the time he decided to shoot the victim, to when he fired the first shot.

He said he chose a gun without a scope because he knew he was close enough not to need the scope to hit the victim.

The probable cause statement says Fitzwater missed the first shot from the porch, hitting the truck the victim had been working on at the time.

Fitzwater then walked into the street and shot the victim in the head. He admitted if police had not arrived so quickly he would have shot everyone in the victim's residence.

Probable cause statement surrounding East Burkhart St. shooting.

He said on Thursday he had finally had enough of the growing frustrations and decided to take the matter into his "own hands."

Police matched the bullet in the victim's truck hood to the bullets from Fitzwater's pocket.

Records show Fitzwater is being held on no bond because he threatened to shoot others in a home in the 300 block of East Burkhart St.

"Mr. Fitzwater was not being attacked, he was not being accused of, he was not being threatened, and he didn't come to the defense of somebody else," Link said. "I mean things, if any of those things were in place then of course, any individual has the right to use lethal force in the defense of somebody else."

"In this case, based on the information we have, none of those things apply and Mr. Fitzwater took upon himself to assault somebody with lethal force and did. So, no one can condone that behavior," Link said.

Neighbors we spoke with say there has been an ongoing dispute between the two who live in the 300 block of E. Burkhart St. Fitzwater allegedly owns the residence the victim lived in with multiple others despite Fitzwater's attempts to have them evicted.

Stay with ABC 17 News for more information on this developing story.

Local News / Missouri / Moberly / News / Randolph / Shooting / Top Stories / Video
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Zach Boetto

Zach Boetto anchors the weekend morning and weekday 9 a.m. & noon newscasts for ABC 17. You can find up-to-the-minute information on Zach’s social media, @ABC17Zach on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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