STEELVILLE – A Saturday afternoon float trip on the Meramec River has left one man dead and another in custody after a dispute led to a fatal shooting west of the Highway 19 Bridge south of Cuba.
The shooting took place near Meramec Estate Lane, which is in a remote area off Highway T between Steelville and Cuba. Crawford County Sheriff Randy Martin said the victim was apparently floating on the river when he became involved in an altercation with the suspect. Radio traffic indicated that the dispute might have involved someone throwing rocks – that has not been confirmed by the Sullivan Journal.
“All I can tell you right now is apparently there was some sort of dispute on the river and now we have a guy that is deceased,” said Martin Saturday afternoon from Hutson Funeral Home in Steelville, where the body of the victim was transferred. Martin said the victim died from a gunshot wound. The suspect remained on the scene after the shooting and was taken into custody by sheriff deputies.
Martin said that a handgun was used in the shooting, but that he did not know the caliber or make/model. “All I can say is that it was a handgun and it has been recovered,” Martin said. “But I haven’t seen it yet.”
Initial radio-traffic reports indicated that the victim was shot in the head sometime around 2 p.m. Martin said that he believes the victim is not local, but that the suspect may live in the area where the shooting took place. “I don’t believe the shooter belonged to the home that initially called,” Martin said. The sheriff stated that names, ages, and addresses would be released after relatives of the deceased are notified and more information is collected.
Martin said the initial 911 call came from a home on Meramec Estates, which is an area consisting of several homes along the river. The homes are near the end of Highway T, which dead-ends near the river about four miles northwest of Steelville. The area is very remote and difficult to access, but is part of a popular floating route. The river remained packed with canoes, rafts, and tubes late Saturday afternoon.
At about 3:30 p.m., a white Crawford County Sheriff’s Department van pulled into the Hutson Funeral Home parking lot. About a half-dozen witnesses to the shooting clad in swimwear and beach attire exited, only to be met by several law enforcement officers – including the Missouri State Highway Patrol, county deputies, and Steelville Police Dept. officers. About 10 minutes later, they were transported to an undisclosed location to give statements.
“We will be interviewing witnesses this evening,” Martin said. “Hopefully we will have something to release (to the media) Sunday.”