Man who drove wounded AmerenUE worker after Jackson shooting speaks

Monday, March 2, 2009
FRED LYNCH ~ Two Ameren utility workers were shot while working at the Ameren substation near Center Junction of Interstate 55 Friday morning. The shooter fled the scene and later shot himself after Jackson police stopped the vehicle.

During a Friday trip to the hardware store, Scott City retiree Don Venable became a lifesaver. As he pulled up to a stoplight after exiting Interstate 55 at Center Junction, he saw a man leaning against the fender of the car ahead.

When the car ahead did not move after the light changed, Venable pulled over to ask if the man needed help.

"He said, 'I've been shot. Take me to the hospital,'" Venable recalled during an interview today.

The man, who Venable could not identify, was wounded in the arm and chest by Aaron C. Hemingway, 32, of Perryville, Mo., during a shooting incident that wounded two workers at the AmerenUE substation near Center Junction. Hemingway, after fleeing the scene, turned his gun on himself.

There were no police at the scene and no other signs of employees near the substation when he met the wounded man, Venable said.

During the drive to Saint Francis Medical Center, Venable said the wounded man said he had no idea why Hemingway chose the substation as a place to start shooting. "He had no idea. He didn't know him," Venable said. "He said he was standing in front of the truck and the guy just turned around and shot him," Venable said. "He said he ran down the hill to where I picked him up at the stoplight. I don't know if he had intentions of flagging a car or not."

The man was able to give a description of Hemingway's S-10 pickup truck that was used for the getaway. "That is about all he said," Venable said. "The only other thing is he told me several times he could hardly breathe."

Since Friday's shootings, which took place shortly before 10 a.m., police have searched Hemingway's Perryville apartment and agents from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security have joined the Jackson Police Department in its investigation.

Perryville police have said Hemingway had been encountered in minor incidents but that no major problems had been reported.

An Ameren spokeswoman, Susan Gallagher, declined to comment today on the condition of either wounded man. She said Ameren would wait for police to report on why the attack took place before commenting.

Jackson Police Chief James Humphreys was scheduled to meet Monday with FBI and homeland security agents. In an interview Sunday, he said some information had surfaced that Hemingway was angry with the government but that further work needed to be done to review files on Hemingway's computer.

Humphreys could not be reached this afternoon for comment.

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