Neosho man given 3 life sentences in shooting of officers

Saturday, January 3, 2009 | 5:24 p.m. CST

NEOSHO — A southwest Missouri man faces three back-to-back life sentences for shooting two Neosho police officers and firing at a state trooper who pursued him after he fled a traffic stop.

Adam Bridgewater, 22, of Neosho, received the consecutive sentences for three counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer in the first degree and three counts of armed criminal action.

"Asking for, and receiving three consecutive life sentences ensures that he will get life without parole," Newton County Prosecutor Jake Skouby said. "He won't get out of prison."

The sentences were handed down Friday.

Bridgewater's run-in with the officers occurred in March 2007. Neosho police Sgt. Dan Cook stopped Bridgewater for probation violation and property damage warrants. The officer saw something in Bridgewater's lap.

It turned out to be a gun, and Bridgewater opened fire — shooting Cook in the arm. When Bridgewater drove away, Neosho patrol officer Mike Sharp gave chase. Bridgewater shot at the officer, striking him in the face when a bullet fired through the windshield of Sharp's cruiser.

About 30 minutes later, Bridgewater got into a shootout with a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper. The officer wasn't hit.

A pair of McDonald County sheriff's deputies spotted Bridgewater's sport utility vehicle later on a road east of Goodman in the McNatt area. Bridgewater rammed the deputies' Jeep with his Blazer and started shooting.

When the deputies fired back, Bridgewater got out of his vehicle and ran.

After a 13-hour manhunt, Bridgewater was taken into custody behind a Newton County farm about eight miles southeast of Neosho. He was still armed and scuffled with officers but didn't shoot at them.

Authorities found several guns in his SUV.

"I think this is the appropriate sentence," Skouby said. "We have to get it so that people don't consider pointing a gun at a police officer. No matter how bad things are in their lives, they would never think of pointing a gun at a police officer."

Bridgewater previously was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison on a charge of illegally possessing a firearm as a result of the incident. He also faces seven counts in McDonald County.


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