CARTER COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) - The preliminary hearing for a man accused of shooting at police has been set.
James D. Cummings, 31, of Van Buren, Missouri was arrested after a seven-hour standoff after he reportedly shot and wounded two law enforcement officials in Carter County, Mo on Monday, Aug. 12.
Cummings’ bond appearance was 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 26 and his criminal setting was at 9 a.m. on Sept. 10. Cummings’ lawyer appeared on his behalf, and prosecutors asked for and was granted a continuance.
The preliminary hearing is now scheduled for October 8.
Cummings is charged in Carter County with four counts of assault first degree and four counts of armed criminal action. The court denied Cummings bond.
According to Carter County Sheriff Rick Stephens, Cummings is being held at the Butler County Jail.
The shooting investigation is being conducted by the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control and the Carter County Sheriff’s Department.
According to court documents, a judge ordered Cummings to leave the home on Monday, Aug. 12 and pay more than $4,500 in back rent. The court order authorized the sheriff’s office to forcefully remove Cummings if he refused to leave the property.
In the probable cause statement, Deputy Brigg Pierson recounts the events that led up to the shooting.
Deputy Pierson, and members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol approached the home and knocked on the door. Cummings yelled at them and told them to leave the eviction on the door and leave. Officials identified themselves several times.
Cummings was informed by officials that he was not being evicted but they were ordered to remove him from the property.
Officials said Cummings was told they were going to kick the door down if he did not leave and Cummings refused to come out.
Deputy Pierson kicked the door open and Cummings opened fire hitting Pierson several times and Trooper Celab McCoy once.
MSHP Sgt. Clark Parrott said the suspect shot at law enforcement on Route M.
A Carter County Sheriff’s deputy and a MSHP trooper were hit. Both were reportedly wearing bullet-resistant vests.
According to Sgt. Parrott, the deputy was shot three times. He was hit in the leg, groin and chest.
The trooper was shot in the shoulder and vest. He was able to get away on his own.
The injures the deputy and trooper are considered non-life threatening, according to Sgt. Parrott.
Officials said they used every negotiating tactic in the book to get the suspect to come out of the home. Eventually officers got the man to surrender peacefully and they are thankful no one else got hurt.
“Someone could’ve died. They just didn’t get into a little tussle on the side of the road. I mean he pulled out a weapon. If you pull out a weapon and start shooting at people you’re expecting to kill them," said Cpl. Thompson.
Highway Patrol SWAT spoke to him through a loud speaker and he eventually left the residence with his hands up and he surrendered.
“You don’t know what you’re approaching,” said Cpl.Thompson. "You don’t know who’s in the house. You don’t know what their intents to harm you are. So when they open the door and open fire, if you are able to walk away from that with even some serious injuries you can heal from, we’re very thankful.”
Eventually MSHP Cpl. Dallas Thompson said a SWAT team moved in closer to the house and was able to convince Cummings to come out of the home with his hands up.
“Initially we did not have the SWAT team here yet," said Cpl. Thomspon. "So the officers that were there were taking a tactical stance back so they could have some cover. We were trying to talk through telephone calls and no one would answer. We were trying to yell through a bull horn, no one would answer. So once we got the property equipment here for the safety of the officers that helped us out drastically.”
Another trooper was on scene right when the two officers were shot and he was able to drag the injured deputy from the porch to safety.
“Gunfire opens from inside the house you’re not sure where it’s coming from, two officers go down one was able to extricate himself. Then the other officers were able to help the (deputy) who was down and get him to safety, and get medical attention to him as quickly as possible," said Cpl. Thompson.
Law enforcement had a robot on the site that they could use to search the home without putting other officers in danger.
They had hoped to have the situation wrapped up by nightfall.
"We wish it was ended already,” said Cpl. Dallas Thompson with Missouri State Highway Patrol said before the suspect surrendered. “Once things get dark it gets even more dangerous for the officers an everyone involved.”
Two men, who identified themselves as the brother and father of the suspect, told Heartland News that they had been unsuccessful in contacting the man.
“To fight for his rights? No that’s not out of character.” said one family member. What is he like? “Hardworking, takes care of his family, he’s wilder, he’s the wild one -and I’m the responsible one,” said another family member.
Law enforcement had urged the public to stay away from the area on Rte. M. The area of Route M and Highway 60 was barricaded as well.
Police are searching Cummings’ home for firearms and other evidence it may take several hours for barricades to be removed from that neighborhood.
They did not find anyone else inside that was a threat but are gathering firearms and other evidence.
“Once we start getting the scene secured and start cleaning things up we are going to open that road way back up and the people that have been away from home all day trying to get back home will be able to do so. We appreciate their patience. They’ve been very nice to us, and helpful by staying out of the area," said Cpl. Thompson.
Condition of officials injured:
Deputy Pierson was taken to a St. Louis Hospital for treatment.
According to Carter County Sheriff Rick Stephens, the Carter County Sheriff’s deputy was still in the hospital as of Saturday afternoon, Aug. 17 recovering from the shooting. The deputyhad been listed as in stable condition at a St. Louis hospital.
“Our Deputy is hanging strong and making progress. He has been communicating with me throughout the day. He sends his thanks for all the thoughts and prayers and is eager to get back. His family is likewise doing well and hanging strong. Please continue keeping our deputy and his family as well as the entire Law Enforcement community in your thoughts and prayers,” said the sheriff in a social media post on Saturday night, Aug. 17.
Sheriff Stephens said the deputy is able to verbally communicate to him at this time.
The sheriff posted a statement on Facebook on Sunday, Aug. 18:
Stephens also mentioned they had incident briefings with the staffed deputies and brought in chaplains to talk with the deputies as well.
The trooper had been treated and released from the hospital on Friday.
Response from lawmakers, officials:
Gov. Mike Parson commented on the situation in a Facebook post.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt commented on the shooting in a Tweet.
In a Facebook post, several law enforcement agencies left messages for the Carter County Sheriff’s Office and Missouri State Highway Patrol.