The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

November 4, 2013

MSSU coach shot multiple times at close range

JOPLIN, Mo. — Jeffrey Bruner stood over Derek Moore and fired several more bullets into the Missouri Southern State University assistant football coach after he collapsed from an initial gunshot, according to Joplin police.

Bruner, 39, a plant operator for Missouri American Water Co. in Joplin, confronted his estranged wife, Dawn Michelle Bruner, and Moore, 37, about 9:50 p.m. Friday in the drop-off and pickup lanes in front of the Northstar Stadium 14 theater on Northpark Lane in Joplin as a crowd emerged from a showing of the film “Captain Phillips.”

Police Lt. Matt Stewart said Dawn Bruner, who is an MSSU campus police officer, and Moore had been to the movie together and were headed toward their vehicle in the parking lot when Jeffrey Bruner approached and said something to them.

He then pulled out a handgun and shot Moore in the torso “at close range,” Stewart said.

“After (Moore) fell down, according to witness statements, (Bruner) fired more shots while Mr. Moore was on the ground,” Stewart said.

Bruner then went to his vehicle in the parking lot of the theater complex and placed the gun inside as three or four witnesses to the shooting followed and confronted him, Stewart said.

“They told him to get down on the ground, which he did, and they stayed with him then until law enforcement arrived,” Stewart said.

The gun believed to have been used in the shooting was recovered from the vehicle, Stewart said. Shell casings observed on the ground at the crime scene would indicate that the weapon was a semi-automatic pistol, although Stewart declined to provide information as to the gun’s make and caliber. He said police had yet to determine its ownership.

Stewart also declined to say how many times Moore was shot or whether the shooter had emptied the weapon into him. He said that to his knowledge, Bruner never pointed the gun at his wife or anyone other than Moore. He declined to say what Bruner said to his wife and Moore just before the shooting.

“He made some statements, but we’re not releasing what those statements were,” Stewart said.

Police have not said how Bruner knew that his estranged wife and the coach were at the movie complex together.

Moore was taken to Freeman Hospital West, where he was pronounced dead at 11:17 p.m. Friday. An autopsy conducted Sunday at Frontier Forensics in Kansas City, Kan., found the cause of death to be multiple gunshot wounds, according to police.

Stewart said Bruner and his wife, who had shared a home on Nashville Street in Joplin, apparently had separated recently. He said he did not know how long ago that split had taken place. He said no previous domestic disturbances between the couple had been reported to Joplin police.

Bruner is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. He is being held without bond at the Jasper County Jail in Carthage.

Electronic court records indicate that Dawn Bruner filed for divorce in Greene County Circuit Court in 2000 while the couple were living in Springfield. The case was dismissed at the request of both parties.

Dawn Bruner began work at Missouri Southern as a reserve police officer on Sept. 28, 2012, and became a full-time officer in January of this year. She previously served as a reserve deputy with the Lawrence County sheriff’s office.

Cassie Mathes, director of university relations and marketing at MSSU, said Dawn Bruner has taken an administrative leave of employment in the aftermath of Monday’s shooting.

Moore was in his first year of employment with the university as an offensive line coach. Divorced for a couple of years, he is survived by a 6-year-old son who lives with his ex-wife in Iowa. The son had been mistakenly reported to be 7 years old in initial information released by the university in the wake of the shooting.

Affidavit not filed

MONDAY PASSED without a probable-cause affidavit being filed in Jasper County Circuit Court with respect to the murder charge that Jeffrey L. Bruner is facing.

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