Cape teenager sought for role in shooting

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Gunshot victim Erica Hempstead is listed in stable condition at Southeast Missouri Hospital, but her alleged shooter is still at large.

Police are asking for the public's help in finding the man they believe shot the 20-year-old Cape Girardeau woman in her back Monday night.

Charges were filed Tuesday against Zatron R. Twiggs, 17, for felony first-degree assault and armed criminal action. His bond has been set at $500,000.

Hempstead was walking with two sisters and a friend south on Ellis Street in the 400 block around 9:15 p.m. when Twiggs approached her wielding a handgun, police said. Hempstead was shot once in her lower right side after she had an argument with Twiggs, police said.

Both Hempstead and her sisters identified Twiggs to police as the man who shot her, patrolman Darren Estes said.

The bullet entered Hempstead's right kidney, perforated her liver and became lodged in her abdominal wall. By Tuesday afternoon, doctors had removed the bullet and were successful in saving her kidney, though they were still keeping a close watch on her, said her father, Shelton Hempstead. He was told his daughter will be released from intensive care unit today.

"The good Lord's got his hand on her now," he said.

Patrolman Jason Selzer encouraged anyone with information about Twiggs' whereabouts to contact police and asked that they not try to approach the suspect.

Nearly two dozen friends and relatives stood around the emergency room entryway Monday night at Southeast Missouri Hospital. Some were crying and several were using cell phones to spread the news of the shooting to others.

The victim's father said he believes his daughter was shot because she and her sisters had told others the suspect stole stereo equipment which belonged to Hempstead.

However, he asked the supporters gathered at the hospital to keep his daughter's well-being highest among their concerns, not thoughts of revenge against the shooter.

Between long, shaky breaths and wiping thick tears from his red eyes, he described his feeling of helplessness when he found his daughter bleeding on the sidewalk.

"I got there and I see my daughter on the ground, and all I can do is hold her and tell her to stay still and it will be fine," he said.

Faith will carry his family through this crisis, he said.

"I'll leave the justice up to God."

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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