Shot to head kills man in Cape

Sunday, November 2, 2003

Just hours after a shooting in the parking lot, bar patrons and staff returned to Players Lounge to remember their slain friend and mourn the tragedy that took his life.

Terry Vernon Lynn, 26, of Cape Girardeau was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday behind Players at 632 Broadway.

Witness information led police to Gregory Allen McNeely, 24, of Cape Girardeau, who was arrested without incident several hours later at his mother's home on Longview Drive. Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle filed charges against McNeely for first-degree murder and armed criminal action. He is in custody on a $1 million bond.

Lynn was a Players regular who would often bring his college homework and listen to blues music as he worked, said bartender Rhonda "Fuzzy" Holshouser. He would wash dishes at the bar when things got busy, go get sandwiches for staff who couldn't leave work, and sometimes rubbed their weary shoulders.

"Every time he would come in here, he had to play that Stevie Ray Vaughan song, 'Life by the Drop,'" she said.

Bar owner Fred Glueck nodded and said, "You should play that now, that'd be a good idea."

As the song started, those sitting at the bar started talking about more good memories of Lynn.

"He had a good sense of humor," Holshouser said. "We took a float trip, and because of him, I laughed so much the whole time that I hurt after it."

She sat down on a stool behind the bar and looked down at her hands, then shook her head as she said, "It just doesn't make any sense."

The shooting may have been influenced by an incident police responded to Thursday, in which a good friend of McNeely, Mike Jones, reported being assaulted by Lynn, according to a probable-cause statement written by police officer Scott Eakers.

Police were called at 1:57 a.m. Saturday by a bartender, Pam Semler, who reported the shooting. Officers found Lynn's body next to a railing by a rear exit from the bar. The Cape Girardeau/Bollinger County Major Case Squad was activated shortly afterward.

At least one witness saw Lynn get shot, police said. Chris Ivy told investigators he saw the shooter point a handgun at the victim "gangster style" -- turning the gun sideways -- and fire, Eakers wrote in his statement.

Others, including McNeely's live-in girlfriend, Ashley Nicole Kelly, and Semler, reported hearing the shot and then seeing McNeely with a gun. Kelly told a detective she was at the bar when McNeely had first left without her, then came back with what she described as a silver .380-caliber handgun.

Gun warning

"She warned people that he had a gun," Eakers wrote in the statement. "She saw Greg holding the gun out in his right hand. She ducked in front of an Explorer parked nearby and then heard a gunshot. She saw Terry fall and saw him lying on the ground."

Kelly also told detectives that McNeely told her earlier that his gun was inside a box under a dresser in their apartment. She found the gun and bullets and moved them on top of a speaker. Police gave no further explanation about why Kelly moved the gun and bullets.

Witnesses said the shooter left in a car with another person. No others were reported as injured in the shooting. Investigators learned McNeely went first to his apartment on Perryville Road and then to his mother's house.

McNeely's criminal history includes misdemeanor convictions for domestic assault, driving while intoxicated, driving without a license, transferring a concealed weapon without a permit and tampering. He is still on probation for the assault.

At the time of McNeely's arrest for domestic assault, police found a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun and its magazine under a mattress in his apartment, according to online court records. Police returned the gun to him after the assault case was concluded.

The city's last murder occurred Aug. 12, 2002, when Billie Jones Jr. was shot in a car at Independence and East Rodney. His suspected killer faces a jury trial Wednesday in Poplar Bluff, Mo., on a change of venue.

Funeral arrangements for Lynn are being handled by Amick-Burnett Funeral Home in Chaffee, Mo.

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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