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Missouri police charge man with 2 counts first-degree murder after officer, court employee shot

Mar 1, 2024, 9:38 AM

Law enforcement officials and medical personnel work the scene of an officer involved shooting near...

Law enforcement officials and medical personnel work the scene of an officer involved shooting near the intersection of Elsea Smith Road and Budschu Road on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Independence, Mo. (Nick Wagner/The Kansas City Star via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Nick Wagner/The Kansas City Star via AP)

A man was charged Friday with two counts of first-degree murder for the killing of a court employee who tried to serve an eviction notice at a home in Independence, Missouri, and an officer who responded, prosecutors said.

Larry Acree was also charged with first-degree assault in the wounding of the other officer who responded, and three counts of armed criminal action, according to court documents.

The shooting occurred when court employee Drexel Mack tried to serve an eviction notice. He was shot, and then officers responding to the scene were shot at, one struck fatally and the other wounded before Acree was taken into custody.

Jackson County Presiding Judge Jalilah Otto said that because Mack was an employee of the court, the case will be moved to another county. The Missouri Supreme Court will decide where it moves to. Mack, who was in his early 40s, had worked for Jackson County for over a decade.

Bond in the case is set at $2 million. Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker said Acree remains hospitalized and will be moved to the jail as soon as he is able.

No attorney is listed for Acree in online court records and a message left with a possible relative of Acree’s was not immediately returned to The Associated Press. The attorney who represented Acree in the second protection from abuse case has since died, and his firm didn’t immediately return a phone message from the AP seeking comment. Nor did the attorney for the person who sought the order.

On Feb. 23, a “Notice to Vacate” sign was posted at the property, according to the probable cause affidavit. It stemmed from court actions that began one year earlier. Acree “didn’t have any right to be there,” Baker said.

On Thursday, Mack and another process service arrived at the address to physically evict Acree. Both of the process servers removed a padlock from the gated drive, the statement said.

The two process servers then approached the front of the home, where they knocked and announced their presence. No one answered, so the property maintenance contractor drilled out the lock on the front door, the statement said. They then entered the home and were fired upon. Mack was struck and fell to the floor just inside the front door, court records said.

The other process server ran and sought help, court records said. Independence police then rushed to the home, where three officers entered the home and tried to retrieve Mack. They then came under additional gunfire, court records said.

Allen was struck in the head, and a second officer was struck in the torso, court records said.

Officers then returned fire, and the suspect was taken into custody. The wounded were taken to nearby Centerpoint Medical Hospital, where Mack and Allen were pronounced dead.

The officer struck in the torso underwent surgery and is expected to survive. That officer also sustained additional injuries to the arms and face.

The home where the eviction notice was being served had been sold recently and had delinquent taxes dating to at least 2019, records show.

Acree, 69, also had been ordered to pay a roofing company, with $32,155 due as of Aug. 1, according to court records. Records from later that month in the case signaled that a property sale was in the works.

The sale was completed on Aug. 14 for $260,000, with a judgment of $27,733.47 subtracted from the total, records show.

Independence is a suburb of Kansas City, with about 122,000 residents.

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AP reporter Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri, contributed to this report.

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Missouri police charge man with 2 counts first-degree murder after officer, court employee shot