Man finds woman dying in street, calls 911, hunts down alleged killer
POLO – At the side of a woman dying from gunshot wounds, Greg Baker, 55, Polo, said he called 911 and then waited more than 20 minutes for help, gave the first deputy to arrive “an ass chewing” and went hunting for the shooter.
Baker said he drove up on the scene at the intersection of East Farabee and Milwaukee streets – two blocks east of Highway 13 in Polo – moments after the shooting. He found Elizabeth Michelle Adams, 31, Polo, struggling for breath in a pool of her own blood, shot in the head and back, around 10 a.m. Jan. 27.
“The deputy showed up about 25 minutes after she’d been shot,” Baker said, with the time tracked on his cell phone.
The ambulance took another five minutes, he said.
“I was there over 30 minutes waiting for the damned ambulance,” Baker said Monday. “I was pissed off about it and I called the director of the ambulance service and his excuse – and I kind of understand that – was that they’re not allowed to go into an active shooter (scene).”
The situation meant law enforcers had to give the “all clear” to the ambulance. Getting a deputy to the intersection to do so took too much time, Baker said.
“(They) didn’t show up for 25 minutes and they’re only five minutes away,” he said. “I didn’t like the way they arrived, either. When they showed up, they didn’t have no sirens on, no lights on, no nothing.”
Caldwell County’s undersheriff, Maj. Tony Kirkendoll, said a deputy did not take 25 minutes to arrive. Asked Monday to say how long arrival took, he declined comment.
Whether Adams had been engaged in drugs or in some other way with the shooter is unclear based on information released to date, but that makes no difference, Baker said.
“She was a little girl to me, regardless of her past history,” he said.
Adams could not move as she lay in the street, Baker said.
“She couldn’t talk at all. She was paralyzed,” he said.
Mark Hiatt, Polo, told law enforcers that from inside his house he heard screams outside and opened the door. He said he saw a man – later identified as the suspected killer, Kevin Lynn Barnett Jr., 35, Lawson – trying to wrestle away a backpack from Adams. Hiatt also heard gunshots, based on the probable cause statement issued by the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office. Barnett also allegedly shot at Hiatt, hitting the man’s house before Barnett grabbed the backpack and ran.
Baker said he found a backpack in the street near the shooting scene.
The bag allegedly contained methamphetamine, a glass pipe and two clean syringes, based on the probable cause statement.
Baker said that as Adams lay dying, he talked to a deputy.
“I told him, ‘I ain’t going to stand here and watch her die, I’m going to go find that son of a bitch, and that’s what I done. Me and my buddy went and tracked him through the snow,” Baker said. “We were coyote hunting. We both had rifles.”
They trailed Barnett through a wooded area to a creek before calling law enforcers for backup.
“We found him behind a brush pile,” Baker said.
Law enforcers circled Barnett.
“He threw his gun away in the snow and they got him surrounded. They got him,” Baker said.
The probable cause statement identified what Barnett threw as a pink-and-black pistol stolen in Branson.
Barnett is charged with first-degree murder, assault, armed criminal action, robbery, unlawful possession of a firearm and receiving stolen property. He is held without bond and at press time had been set to appear in court Feb. 4.
Based on information released by Caldwell County Sheriff Mitchell K. Allen, these law enforcement agencies combined to make the arrest possible: The Missouri Highway Patrol; Polo Police Department; Clinton County Sheriff’s Office; Tri-County Regional Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT, team members; Canadian Pacific Railroad Police; and the Missouri Department of Conservation.
After being transported by ambulance, Adams died at Liberty Hospital.
Standing with Adams as she died and then tracking down the alleged killer just needed doing, Baker said.
“Anybody would have done what I done,” he said.