Missouri police charge man with 2 counts first-degree murder after officer, court employee shot | World News - Hindustan Times
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Missouri police charge man with 2 counts first-degree murder after officer, court employee shot

AP |
Mar 02, 2024 01:17 AM IST

Missouri police charge man with 2 counts first-degree murder after officer, court employee shot

A Kansas City-area man whose home was sold as he struggled to pay delinquent taxes killed a court employee who tried to serve an eviction notice and a police officer who responded, authorities said Friday in announcing charges.

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Larry Acree, of Independence, Missouri, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree assault in the wounding of another officer who responded, and three counts of armed criminal action, according to court documents.

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The shooting occurred when court employee Drexel Mack tried to serve an eviction notice.

He was shot, and then officers responding to the scene were shot at, one struck fatally and two others injured before Acree was taken into custody.

“Ambush is a strong word but it may be one that’s fitting here,” Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker said at a news conference.

Jackson County Presiding Judge Jalilah Otto said that because Mack was an employee of the court, the case will be moved to another county. The Missouri Supreme Court will decide where it moves to. Mack, who was in his early 40s, had worked for Jackson County for over a decade.

Bond in the case is set at $2 million. Baker said Acree, who sustained minor injuries, remains hospitalized and will be moved to the jail as soon as he is able.

No attorney is listed for Acree in online court records and messages that The Associated Press left with possible relatives of Acree’s were not immediately returned.

On Feb. 23, a “Notice to Vacate” sign was posted at the property, according to the probable cause affidavit. It stemmed from court actions that began one year earlier. Acree “didn't have any right to be there," Baker said.

On Thursday, Mack and another process server arrived at the address to physically evict Acree. Both of the process servers removed a padlock from the gated drive, the statement said.

The two process servers then approached the front of the home, where they knocked and announced their presence. No one answered, so the property maintenance contractor drilled out the lock on the front door, the statement said. They then entered the home and were fired upon. Mack was struck and fell to the floor just inside the front door, court records said.

The other process server ran and sought help, court records said. Independence police then rushed to the home, where three officers entered the home and tried to retrieve Mack. They then came under additional gunfire, court records said.

Allen was struck in the head, and a second officer was struck in the torso, court records said.

Officers then returned fire, and the suspect was taken into custody. The wounded were taken to nearby Centerpoint Medical Hospital, where Mack and Allen were pronounced dead.

The officer struck in the torso underwent surgery and is expected to survive. That officer also sustained additional injuries to the arms and face.

Police Chief Adam Dustman said previously that a third officer also “took gunshot rounds” and had minor injuries. No charges were immediately filed stemming from that officer's injuries.

Baker said more charges were coming but that they just weren't prepared yet. She declined to release details on the type of firearm or firearms used.

The home where the eviction notice was being served had been sold recently and had delinquent taxes dating to at least 2019, records show.

Acree, 69, also had been ordered to pay a roofing company, with $32,155 due as of Aug. 1, according to court records. Records from later that month in the case signaled that a property sale was in the works.

The sale was completed on Aug. 14 for $260,000, with a judgment of $27,733.47 subtracted from the total, records show.

The person who bought the property didn’t immediately respond to a Facebook message from the AP seeking comment.

Independence is a suburb of Kansas City, with about 122,000 residents.

Baker noted that the tragedy followed a recent shooting at the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory rally in which one woman died and around two dozen others were wounded.

“Our region has been weighted with it seems one tragedy after another after another,” she said. “Almost every one of those is linked to someone using firearms in a way that they’re not supposed to. I do acknowledge that this community is suffering. It’s a lot for one community to bear.”

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AP reporter Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri, contributed to this report.

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