security footage and truck tracking; An inside look at how Webster County arrested a man wanted for gun theft
WEBSTER COUNTY, Mo. – A man suspected of stealing from a gun store near Fordland has been arrested.
Earlier this month, a man was caught on camera carrying a handgun, magazines, a backpack and body armor from Mountainside Outfitters.
“We had a really big event that we attended on Saturday, November 4th, and we had very large crowds,” said owner Dave Metzger. “After spending 3 hours trying out all the different types of body armor and choosing what he wanted, he got some ammo, 125 rounds, multiple magazines, and 30-round magazines. Once he got away from the screen, this AR 15 pistol was truly unique, as it has Two hinges and it folds into thirds and becomes incredibly compact, small enough to fit an ammo can, or in this case, tuck it in. A small backpack that holds the body armor in. So once he frees it from the screen, he casually puts it in his basket.
Metzger says this is how he believes the man was able to blend in and get away more easily.
“He used the audience and used everything that was going on as a distraction and found the opportunity they needed to be able to take her away from the show,” Metzger explained.
The store filed a report and appealed on social media for information that led to his arrest.
“We were able to find him (on camera) and obviously we got really good footage of his face, which is particularly concerning given the fact that he was willing to show his face on that number of cameras,” Metzger said. “It makes you wonder if what they’re planning to do, they’re not planning to get away from it or be locked up for it. So his behavior was very worrying.”
OzarksFirst crews arrived at the store to help spread the word in case anyone had information but learned of the development around the same time as the Webster County Sheriff’s Office.
“We just found out by looking through a lot of the footage that he arrived in a semi truck and parked it on Interstate 60 and walked through a blind spot during the festival and then came in here through this side door.” Metzger said
That security footage was clear enough to show the company’s name on the side of the trailer, which led to a call from Webster County Sheriff Roy Cole.
“They were very helpful. I was able to contact (the trucking company) and verify my identity, and I was able to get the information I needed to find the suspect,” Sheriff Cole said. (Mountainside Outfitters) They discovered some other cameras they had Because they had a lot of them and it took them some time to review their footage. So they found more footage and they found the car, and we were able to trace that car back to the company.
The information included a tracking device on the truck.
OzarksFirst then sat with Sheriff Cole in his office as he watched a green dot on his computer screen heading north into Missouri from Arkansas.
“We’re sitting here right now and watching the car drive toward us. So we’re getting ready to make the arrest, God willing,” Cole said. “I never imagined he was driving back to us. He was in Memphis this morning.”
Once the driver crossed the Missouri state line, Oregon County deputies arrested the man in Thayer, Missouri.
A photo provided to OzarksFirst shows deputies found the backpack, rifle and several magazines.
A social media post by Mountainside Outfitters says all items were recovered during the arrest.
Metzger said he’s glad the man is off the streets, and praised the Webster County Sheriff’s Office for their work, but said the financial impact could hurt his family’s business.
“This is our life. This is our family. This is exactly the same money that puts food on our table, the same money that buys our kids’ sports clothes, the same money that goes to buy guns,” Metzger said. “Insurance is not helpful in a situation like this. Our discount is higher than what was stolen. So, although insurance may play a role in a larger situation, it does not help at all in this situation.
OzarksFirst will monitor this story for updates and provide more information as we learn.