A 23-year-old Columbia man died Tuesday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after separate shootings sent two Columbia police officers to the hospital.
The man, Richard Thiel Evans, shot himself in the head after police tried to apprehend him near his parents’ Park De Ville home Tuesday morning. Evans, son of former Columbia city attorney David Evans, died about 4:45 p.m. at University Hospital.
Evans had gone to the home after shooting Officer Molly Bowden multiple times Monday evening, police said. Bowden, 26, was in critical condition as of 10 p.m. Tuesday after suffering three gunshot wounds to the shoulder and neck. She underwent surgery immediately after the shooting Monday night and again Tuesday evening, police said.
While fleeing police Tuesday morning, Evans shot Officer Curtis Brown, 36, in the right bicep, police said. Brown was in stable condition as of 10 p.m. Tuesday.
Bowden made what Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm said was a routine traffic stop at Nifong and Forum boulevards at 9:50 p.m. Monday. Bowden, in her third year with the Columbia Police Department, approached the car and asked for Evans’ license.
After a brief conversation, Evans pulled out a semiautomatic handgun and fired a round at Bowden, missing her, Boehm said.
“It looks like it took her completely by surprise,” Capt. Sam Hargadine said Tuesday afternoon.
Hargadine said Evans then chased Bowden as she attempted to take cover behind his Mitsubishi Galant. Evans shot her once, which incapacitated the officer. Evans then stood over Bowden and fired his weapon two more times, hitting her above her protective vest, Hargadine said. Bowden’s in-car video camera recorded the incident.
“He obviously had had some training,” Hargadine said. “He didn’t miss, and his tactics were very much like a police officer’s.”
Hargadine said Bowden suffered two wounds in the neck and one in the shoulder. Early Tuesday afternoon, doctors were not sure whether Bowden had been shot multiple times in the neck or if one bullet left an entry and exit wound, Hargadine said.
“Officer Bowden attempted to return fire, but the suspect attacked so quickly, and there was no opportunity for her to do that,” Boehm said at a news conference Tuesday.
Evans left Bowden on the side of Nifong Boulevard, returned to his car and fled. Missouri Highway Patrol officers later found the Galant on Santiago Drive, less than a mile from the shooting.
Boehm said it was only a matter of seconds before two peopledriving east on Nifong saw Bowden lying in front of her police car, bleeding from the neck.
One, whose name has not been released by police, used Bowden’s portable police radio to call for help. Paramedics took Bowden to University Hospital, where she underwent surgery. There were no witnesses to the shooting, police said.
About 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, prosecuting attorney Kevin Crane issued a warrant for Evans’ arrest.
Police used Evans’ identification and information that Bowden had already collected to track Evans to his parents’ home on Orleans Street, on Columbia’s west side. Hargadine said police contacted Evans’ parents and immediately did a walk-through investigation of the home.
“We were in contact with his family throughout the night, and at one point Evans’ father was in touch with (Boone County Prosecutor) Kevin Crane,” Hargadine said.
Officers were posted at the home in the Park De Ville neighborhood when, about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, Evans and Brown saw each other as Evans was walking toward the house. Evans fled and Brown chased him to the back yard of 3111 W. Worley St., about a block away.
Evans fired at Brown, striking him in the right bicep. Evans then turned the gun on himself and fired one round into his head.
Hargadine said he thought Evans had walked from his abandoned car on Santiago Drive to his parents’ home, about six miles away. He said Evans was soaking wet and still wearing the same clothes he wore the night before. There was no indication that he had received any help or a ride.
Police have not discovered a motive for the shootings but are still treating it as an open investigation. In the coming days, investigators will work to retrace the last 48 hours of Evans’ life to discover a motive for the first shooting. Hargadine said.
Evans has been convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia twice and possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana once, according to court records.
Boehm would not say whether Evans was intoxicated or on drugs at the time of either shooting. Hargadine said a small amount of marijuana and a clip for .38-caliber handgun were found in Evans’ vehicle.
Some neighbors on Worley Street awoke to caution tape and police lights Tuesday morning. Carla Stanley, who lives in a duplex next door to the yard where the shootings took place, said she was home at the time but didn’t hear any gunshots.
“It was kind of scary that it was almost in my own backyard, underneath the tree where my daughter plays with her friends,” Carla Stanley said.
While getting ready for work at 7:45 a.m., she first noticed that something had happened.
“I looked out my window and there was caution tape tied to my patio swing,” Stanley said.
The last time an officer was shot in Columbia was on Jan. 26, 1996. Officer Shelley Jones was escorting a theft suspect from the Gerbes supermarket off West Broadway when the suspect’s husband shot Jones in the parking lot. Jones survived because of her bulletproof vest.
— Missourian reporter Ferdous Al-Faruque contributed to this story.