This past week, the Rolla Police Department handled 727 calls for service. Of these calls there were: 23 arrests, 7 alarms, 24 accidents, 35 traffic complaints, 103 traffic stops, 19 disturbance (including domestics), 13 suspicious nature, 18 assists of other agencies, 8 narcotics violations, 4 public relations contacts, 17 security checks, 48 animal control calls, 4 mental health calls and 14 field interviews. This call total is down 15 calls from last week but with a load of narcotic arrests, a potential jumper on the Vichy Road bridge and a multi-agency pursuit of a rifle wielding shooter, it was yet another busy week!
Next week, May 15 – 21, 2011 is proclaimed as National Police Week! In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. The Rolla Police Department will proudly display a black banner across our shields and fly the blue ribbon on our patrol cars in remembrance of those fallen men and women of law enforcement who gave their all in support of their communities. Please join us in keeping the officers families in your prayers.
On Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at approximately 3:30 pm Central Dispatch received a report of a male attempting to jump from the Vichy Road overpass. Responding officers discovered a disgruntled male perched on the outside of the safety fence over Interstate 44. Immediately, traffic was stopped in both directions and Vichy Road was blocked. Officers from our Negotiations Unit were dispatched and were successful in convincing the individual to climb back onto the bridge. The male was not injured and was referred to the appropriate treatment facility.
On Thursday, May 12, 2011 at approximately 8:36 a.m. a male identified as Cody Nathaniel Willcoxon attempted to enter the main gate at Fort Leonard Wood, armed with an AK-47 assault rifle. Efforts to detain Willcoxon at the gate were unsuccessful and he fled the area in his vehicle which is described as a silver passenger car. Members of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Deparment and the St. Robert Police Department gave chase as the suspect began firing the rifle at them. The suspect headed eastbound on I-44 and continued to fire on the pursuing officers as they traveled toward Rolla. Officers along the route made several attempts at deploying spike strips in an effort to stop the suspect but met with negative results. The pursued suspect continued east on I-44 then exited at the west overpass at Rolla where he continued to shoot at Rolla Police Officers and members of the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department. One of the officers was able to return fire striking the suspect vehicle but it was unclear whether the suspect was injured. The suspect led the pursuing officers through Rolla before striking a concrete barrier on the Missouri S&T campus and disabling his vehicle. Willcoxon was able to retain his AK-47 rifle and fled on foot into a university owned building. Pursuing officers set up a perimeter around the building and the Rolla Police Department S.W.A.T. team was activated and used to clear the building. The consequential search of the building confirmed that the suspect was still at large.
Following the building search, officers discovered an AK-47 rifle discarded under a parked vehicle in a campus parking lot near the building the suspect was seen entering. This weapon was believed to be the same as that of the suspect but it was unclear whether the suspect was armed with additional weapons. Additional support arrived from all other law enforcement agencies and a command post was established in the parking lot at Colton’s Restaurant. Bishop Avenue was closed off between Cedar Street and 14th in an effort to keep motorists out of the search area. Inspection of the suspects disabled vehicle indicated that he may be injured but the true extent of the injuries was not known. Major intersections were manned and the S.W.A.T. team began searching the wooded area between the university campus and I-44. Rolla City Fire and Rescue provided the use of the mobile command post and telecommunicators from Central Dispatch began emergency dispatch operations on site. Rolla public schools, the Phelps County Regional Medical Center and the university assumed lock-down status and local businesses in close proximity to the search area were searched.
At approximately 9:46 am., Central Dispatch received a report from a citizen on Crinoidal Court which was just north of the search area, that a male matching the description of our suspect, forced entry to their residence and stole a 2003 Ford Taurus. The suspect changed clothing and fled the area in the stolen Taurus. The residents were not injured but did state that the suspect was bleeding. Officers were dispatched to the location and processed the crime scene. Information and the description of the stolen vehicle was dispatched to local and regional law enforcement agencies. Helicopters and fixed wing aircraft were requested and arrived and began searching the area. For the next couple hours officers were rotated through various fixed locations and others were assigned as rovers covering most of the Phelps County area. The FBI arrived on scene and began researching information on the suspect in an attempt to possibly identify destinations the suspect may attempt to pursue. Family members of the suspect were identified and contacted and provided additional intelligence and contact information. Local and regional news media was on hand and provided with up to date suspect information and operational goals as they progressed.
At approximately 12:45 am. Central Dispatch received information from a motorist that may be following the suspect vehicle south on US 63 near Edgar Springs. The motorist described the stolen vehicle and provided play by play location information which was relayed to responding officers. After a short time Missouri State Highway Patrol officers were able to locate the suspect in the stolen Taurus and were able to apprehend him without incident. The suspect had suffered a minor injury prior to apprehension and was treated by emergency services personnel before being transported back to Rolla. The stolen Taurus was recovered and processed by crime scene investigators. The entire operation was then discontinued and a debriefing took place at MSHP Troop I Hq’s where officers and representatives from several differing agencies were apprised of the situation and thanked for their assistance. Fortunately no officers or assisting personnel were injured in this potentially deadly operation. The suspect was transported to the Phelps County Jail where he was incarcerated pending warrant application on several felony complaints for his multi-jurisdictional tirade! I would like to thank Sheriff Rick Lisenbe and the members of the Phelps County Sheriff’s Dept., Cpt. Leann Kenley and members of the MSHP at Troop I and other Troops across the State, Director Rick Hanrahan and members of the PCRMC Dept. of Public Safety, Director Christine Laughlin and members of the Missouri S&T Police Dept., Fire Chief Robert Williams and members of Rolla Fire and Rescue, Agent Pat Cunningham from the FBI, members of the St. Robert Police Dept. and Pulaski County Sheriff’s Dept., members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, members of the US Forestry Service, members of the South Central Drug Task Force, and finally staff and members of the Rolla Police Department and last but certainly not least I would like to thank you the community, for your patience and understanding as we worked through this emergency situation. If I failed to mention anyone who helped us through this ordeal, it was not intentional. As I have mentioned many times in the past, we, the citizens of Rolla are extremely fortunate to be able to rely on such a diverse, professional group of law enforcement agencies that work closely together to keep our community safe. Without this dedication to duty and combined partnership, we would not be nearly as successful in our mission.
In closing, I would like to announce a new tool we have recently added to our Rolla Police Department FaceBook site. The “Community Action Team” tab has been activated to keep the public up to date on what the Community Action Team is doing to combat crime in our community. Simply click on the tab on the left of the column and you are there. The Community Action Team is Mayor Bill Jenks’ task force established to combat serious crime in our town. This task force is a partnership between the police department and agencies within the community. The Community Action Team is comprised of representatives from the State of Missouri Probation & Parole, State of Missouri Division of Social Services, Phelps County Juvenile Office, Phelps County Regional Medical Center, Phelps County Anti-Drug Committee, Rolla Public Schools, Rolla Housing Authority, Ministerial Alliance and private counseling services. Their mission statement is as follows: The Community Action Team brings together community members in partnership to help insure the safety of our citizens. To develop ideas and strategies on how to enhance the quality of life in our community through proven principles of effective law enforcement and community policing. Such efforts will ensure the criminal element of our resolve to eradicate those involved in criminal gangs and the sales of illegal narcotics in our community.
Have a great week!
Chief Mark Kearse