FLORISSANT – A bar patron suspected of fatally shooting another customer at Show-Me’s Sports Bar and Grill – reportedly after an argument about a dog – has been released from custody while prosecutors decide whether to file charges.
Police confirmed on Friday morning that the suspected gunman, a 54-year-old man from Bellefontaine Neighbors, was booked Wednesday on suspicion of second-degree murder at the bar. However, he has since been released from police custody.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said in a news conference Friday that he is still weighing evidence in the case against Missouri law.
Stand-your-ground and self-defense laws complicate the case, McCulloch said.
Investigators are reviewing about 20 witness interviews and four hours of surveillance video from different angles in the bar before making a decision, the prosecuting attorney said.
He said the shooter “may end up charged at some point and he may not.”
While potential charges are under review, McCulloch told reporters he did not believe the shooter posed a significant threat.
“We try to make a threat assessment, but I don’t see this as a situation in which anyone has a whole lot to fear,” McCulloch said. “Never say never, of course, but I don’t anticipate that this individual will be an issue.”
Carl Leavy, who witnessed the shooting, said, however, that he fears for his safety with the suspect released without charges that would keep him from carrying a firearm.
“I don’t see how a guy like that can get out,” Leavy said. “I’m absolutely fearing for my life and for everyone else that saw it happen.”
The charging decision should be made by the end of next week, McCulloch said.
Florissant Police Officer Steve Michael said the shooter was released from the holding cell at the Florissant police station Thursday afternoon because he can’t be held longer than 24 hours without charges.
The Post-Dispatch is not identifying the suspect because he is not charged with a crime. The Post-Dispatch was unable to reach the man by phone Friday.
As investigators try to sort out witness accounts and review video, one key is to determine if the man who died was an aggressor. One witness who was standing behind the suspect said the man who died threw a punch, and they fell into bar stools to continue their fight before shots rang out.
Killed in the attack was Scott Beary, 43, of Winchester. Beary was a husband, father and volunteer baseball coach and had recently spent months in Texas and Florida to help with hurricane reconstruction, according to family members.
Beary was shot about 4 p.m. Wednesday inside Show-Me’s bar at North New Florissant Road near U.S. Highway 67. Don Beary said his brother had stopped by the bar with a friend after he got off work at CSM Construction, an emergency restoration company.
The argument that eventually led to his death started over the weight of a German shepherd, one witness told the Post-Dispatch. The gunman’s friend told bar patrons that his dog was 290 pounds. Beary told the man he didn’t believe it, said Carl Leavy, who saw the shooting.
“I know, it sounds ridiculous,” Leavy, 46, said.
Leavy said he didn’t know the men involved but overheard much of their conversation as he sat a few feet from them at a horseshoe-shaped bar. While at first the disagreement didn’t seem heated, one of the men later disparagingly commented on Beary’s weight, prompting the deadly encounter, Leavy said.
Scott Beary is survived by three children, ages 16, 15 and 13. Shortly before his death, his wife gave birth to a premature daughter, Jocelyn, who died just five days before her father was killed. The funeral for the 11-day-old infant was Feb. 2.
“When in this country are we going to stop with the violence?” asked Beary’s brother Don Beary. “You get in an argument in a bar and somebody has to pull out a gun and turn it into the Wild West? Now my brother, my best friend, is dead.”
A bar argument
Leavy gave a full statement to police about what he heard and saw. He even drew a seating chart of the bar to explain who was where. He gave this account to the Post-Dispatch:
Leavy arrived after work to the bar about 3 p.m. He is a lifelong resident of Florissant and comes to the bar and restaurant occasionally, but he said he didn’t recognize the four men at the bar. He said he sat and could overhear some of what they were saying.
Beary was having a casual conversation with the others about construction jobs. He even exchanged numbers with the man who eventually would shoot him, saying he would use his construction services, Leavy said. The man who was talking about his dog was a friend of the shooter. He told the bar patrons he had a 290-pound German shepherd. Beary was dubious. “He said, ‘I’m 325 pounds, I can’t even fathom a dog as big as I am,'” Leavy said.
The dog owner said the dog was in the car and could prove it. He invited Beary out to see the dog, but a phone call or other distraction kept Beary from going, Leavy said. Soon, the dog owner left, along with his friend, who was the gunman. When the gunman returned a few minutes later, he was agitated, Leavy said. “He didn’t seem the same,” Leavy said.
No one yet knew he had a gun.
The bartender tried to get the man to leave and gave him his bar tab: $7.45. The suspect paid cash, Leavy said. Beary was leaving too, and as he passed the suspect, Beary put his hand on the man’s shoulder and said, “No hard feelings,” according to Leavy. Beary was rounding a corner to leave when the suspect called him a “fat (expletive),” according to Leavy.
Beary returned, walked up to the man and said, “Why would you say that?” Leavy said his view of some of the confrontation was limited because he was behind the suspect. He said the suspect made a movement with his hands, and Beary “got his punch off and hit this guy in the head, knocked the guy into the bar stools, and they were still connected.”
Seconds later, Leavy heard four or five shots. He said he was about five feet away from the gunfire, and the gunman was firing directly into Beary’s chest. Leavy said the bartender rushed over to separate the men, herded the gunman over to a different area of the bar and grabbed the gun. Leavy said he held the dying man’s head and searched for a pulse while Beary’s friend tried to stop the bleeding.
Police said the shooting occurred after an argument between the men turned physical, but have not confirmed Leavy’s account or said how it might differ from the accounts of other people in the bar.
Florissant Police Chief Timothy Lowery confirmed that the shooter was disarmed and detained by other patrons of the bar until police arrived. Another man in the bar, Ryan Jacobsmeyer, 37, of
Troy, Mo., was shot in an extremity, police said. He was treated at a hospital and released.
Show-Me’s co-owner Ron Cotes said the business reopened Friday afternoon, after closing for a day and a half following the shooting.
“It’s just senseless violence,” Cotes said. “We’ve been in business 29 years and never experienced anything close to this.”
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