Thornfield man's call to sheriff's office ends in his own arrest
Robert Morris, 54, is being held in the Ozark County Jail without bond in connection with a Dec. 19 incident in which he allegedly attempted to “run a man off” by hitting him in the face with a gun and discharging a shotgun at the man’s vehicle. The vehicle’s back glass was reportedly shot out, tires were punctured by shotgun pellets and shotgun damage was found on multiple places on the car, including the driver’s side seat and headrest, where the man was presumably sitting as he attempted to flee in the car.
Morris was arrested Dec. 23, four days after the alleged incident. The same day as his arrest, he was arraigned before Associate Judge Raymond Gross on charges of first-degree attempted assault, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon (shooting at a motor vehicle or person). He could face five to 15 years in prison for the class B felony of attempted assault, and because the charge is categorized as a violent felony, Morris would be required to complete at least 85 percent of the sentence before he would be eligible for parole.
A hearing in which Morris is asking that the judge set a bond in his case is scheduled for Jan. 2.
According to the probable cause statement in the case prepared by Ozark County Sheriff’s Deputy Cpl. Curtis Dobbs, Morris called the Ozark County Sheriff’s Office at 11:43 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 19, to report that he’d had a confrontation with another man, Clint Peardon, at the Morris residence on County Road 829 in Thornfield. Morris said Peardon “had pulled a gun on him, and [Morris] had to run [Peardon] off,” the statement says.
The dispatcher took the report from the man and hung up. A short time later, Morris reportedly called the dispatcher back and said Peardon had returned to his property and he wanted to speak with a deputy.
Dobbs responded to the Thornfield residence and spoke with Morris, who reportedly told the officer that he had received a phone call from Peardon’s girlfriend, who said she’d been arguing with Peardon and asked if Morris would come pick her up and give her a ride.
Morris told the officer he had to fix a flat tire in order to go pick up Peardon’s girlfriend. While he was outside fixing the flat, Peardon reportedly drove up Morris’ driveway. Morris told the officer when he saw Peardon, he went inside the house and got his 20-gauge pump shotgun then returned outside to Peardon’s vehicle.
Morris told the officer that Peardon had a .22-caliber rifle resting in the car in a barrel-up, “ready for poaching,” position.
Morris said Peardon never pointed the gun at him or waved the weapon in a threatening manner, the probable cause statement says.
Morris said he then pointed the 20-gauge shotgun at Peardon and thrust it forward twice, striking Peardon in the face.
Dobbs asked Morris to describe exactly how he hit Peardon, and Morris acted it out by holding up his hands as if he was holding a rifle and thrust his arms forward in a fast motion.
Morris said after Peardon was hit in the face with the weapon, Peardon reportedly attempted to “speed away” and leave.
Morris said he then shot at the tires of Peardon’s vehicle. Then he shot through the back window of the car, shattering the vehicle’s back glass, the report says.
Morris said Peardon continued driving, attempting to flee, but Peardon lost control of the vehicle a short distance from the Morris residence.
Morris told the officer he went to where Peardon crashed the car, made him hand over the rifle and helped him get his vehicle unstuck. Morris said he checked and noticed that the .22 was not loaded and did not have a magazine in it. Morris said he took Peardon back to his residence and cleaned the wounds on Peardon’s face that had occurred when Morris hit him with the gun.
“At some point, Peardon was allowed to leave,” the statement says.
Dobbs photographed the area where Morris said the incident took place, including broken glass consistent with automotive window glass found just past the entrance of Morris’ driveway.
Later, Dobbs contacted Peardon’s girlfriend, who told the deputy Peardon was in transit to Ozarks Medical Center in West Pains to receive treatment for the injuries he had sustained during the confrontation with Morris. Dobbs contacted the West Plains Police Department and asked them to contact Peardon to photograph his injuries and get a statement from him concerning the incident.
Dobbs went to a residence on County Road 817, where Peardon’s vehicle was parked, to take photos of the damage.
Dobbs wrote in his report that there appeared to be a close-range shotgun blasts to the trunk and rear window of the car, as well as to the vehicle’s driver’s-side door, mirror, window and wheel. He also reported damage from an apparent shotgun blast that passed through the rear driver’s-side door window, penetrating the driver’s seat and head rest. Dobbs also located three damaged areas in the driver’s side windshield, in line with shotgun pellet marks that traveled through the vehicle’s rear driver’s-side window.