By Jeff Lehr
WEBB CITY, Mo. — A man who was angry about the shut-off of his cable-television service shot his television set Wednesday afternoon and then prompted a two-hour standoff with police before leaving his house and surrendering.
The standoff began about 3:30 p.m. at a house on the southwest corner of Ball and Daugherty streets in Webb City.
Police Chief Carl Francis said the wife of Walter Hoover, 70, walked to the police station a couple of blocks away and reported that her husband had been drinking, was angry with a shut-off of his cable service, and had gotten his guns out.
“He actually fired two rounds before she left the residence,” Francis said.
Both rounds apparently were directed at and struck the couple’s television set, he said. He said he did not know why the couple’s cable service had been shut off.
A police officer responding to the woman’s report spotted Hoover at the front door of the residence with a handgun. The officer called for assistance rather than approaching the home, and other Webb City police, state patrol officers, Jasper County deputies, and officers from the Duenweg, Duquesne, Carterville and JasCo Metro police departments all responded.
Francis said Hoover went back inside the house and returned to the front door a short time later with what officers recognized as a high-powered hunting rifle.
The police chief said Hoover’s possession of such a powerful weapon, coupled with information obtained from his wife that he had been in a similar standoff with police on a previous occasion in another Missouri town, led to a decision to call for help from the Joplin Police Department’s special weapons and tactics team, which happened to be assembled for a training day and available on short notice.
Francis said officers were not certain at that point if anyone else was in the house with Hoover. His wife told them that a neighbor might be there.
A perimeter was set up about a block to a block and a half in each direction, and the SWAT team began evacuating residents of the area from their homes. Francis said police were concerned that rounds from a high-powered rifle could penetrate the walls of nearby homes, and kill or injure someone.
Efforts were made to call the house by telephone and talk to Hoover, he said. But officers soon learned from the telephone company that he had either taken his phone off the hook or had ripped the phone line from the wall.
About 5:30 p.m., the SWAT team took up a position immediately south of the barricaded man’s home and began urging him by megaphone to come out unarmed and surrender.
Around 6 p.m., Hoover did just that, and he was taken into custody without any shots being fired.
SWAT team members then entered the home, where American and Confederate flags flew from poles on opposite sides of the front door, and cleared the area of any remaining danger before allowing residents of the vicinity back into their homes.
Francis said it turned out that no one had been in the house with Hoover. He was taken to the police station and booked on a felony count of unlawful use of a weapon. Francis said any other charges would depend on what investigators learn about events preceding his wife’s departure and whether she had been harmed or threatened in any manner.
“She felt threatened,” Francis said. “But I don’t know that he directly threatened her.”
By Jeff Lehr
- Joplin Metro
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