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Poplar Bluff shooting suspect in custody

Friday, October 19, 2012

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- With one Poplar Bluff man in custody in connection with an overnight shooting on North Main Street, local authorities continue to search for his alleged accomplice.

Michael Anthony Thomas, 21, of the 900 block of Mulberry was arrested just before 10 a.m. at his girlfriend's home in the 1300 block of Susan on suspicion of first-degree assault, first-degree burglary and armed criminal action, according to Deputy Chief Jeff Rolland.

Authorities had been searching for Thomas, as well as Dimitri Dontrell Dudley, 19, as persons of interest in connection with the shooting of Joshua Blake Leader.

Rolland said police responded to a report of a fight with shots fired at to 1311 N. Main St. "When officers arrived, there was a large crowd of about 15 to 20 people," in the street and on the front yard of the home, he said.

Witnesses directed officers inside the home, he said, where they found Leader, 20, on the dining room floor. He had sustained a gunshot wound to his upper, right back.

Leader "told officers that Dimitri D. Dudley had shot him," Rolland said. He was taken by ambulance to Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center.

"The bullet ... came to rest just short of his spinal cord," Rolland said. The caliber of the weapon used has not yet been determined.

Witnesses said Dudley and Thomas came to the residence to confront Leader about an affair that Leader's wife and Thomas allegedly were having during the carnival last year, Rolland said, He added the men as having been fighting "back and forth over her."

When Dudley arrived, Rolland said, he allegedly displayed a pistol, which "caused Joshua Leader and several others to flee into the residence."

Rolland said Dudley and Thomas kicked in the front door and entered the residence and fired several shots. Dudley allegedly shot at Leader, who was trying to escape farther into the house, he said.

Rolland said Dudley and Thomas fled the scene in a black, two-door car bearing a license plate with the first three digits P-Z-1.

As officers search for Dudley, who resides in the 500 block of Apple, chief Danny Whitely said, "We are going to exhaust all resources with manpower and assistance from other agencies to apprehended Dudley as soon as possible." He said Dudley should be considered armed and dangerous.

"We're going to talk to the prosecutor and judge and request no-bond warrants as they are a menace to society," said Whiteley, who cited Thomas' pending charges.

Thomas reportedly was out on bond facing five felony charges -- three unclassified felonies of first-degree statutory rape, a Class D felony of unlawful use of a weapon and a Class C felony of receiving stolen property.

"I don't think he should be out on bond to start with given the heinous nature" of the crimes, one of which "involved a 13-year-old girl," Whiteley said.

Pertinent address: North Main Street, Poplar Bluff, Mo.


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