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Man Shoots Two To Death in Missouri

September 8, 2000

BUNKER, Mo. (AP) _ It was hardly the sort of dispute that seemed destined for mayhem.

For years, the city and Garry Dewayne Watson feuded over an easement on a roughly one-acre lot where he lives in a mobile home next to a city-operated sewage lagoon.

City crews frequently needed to cross over the property through the city-owned easement to perform work at the lagoon. This week, Watson was told that workers would begin digging in the area Thursday because of a problem with the sewer line.

``When they showed up, he came out of the house and started shooting at the workers,″ said Sgt. Skip DeSalme of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Rocky Gordon, 34, a city employee, and David Thompson, 44, an alderman who frequently tagged along on city projects, were killed Thursday; another city worker and the town marshal were wounded.

Watson, 49, fled after the shootings and was still on the lam early Friday, police said. More than 100 officers were using helicopters and bloodhounds to search for him in the heavily wooded area surrounding this south-central Missouri community of about 300 people. He was believed to be armed with a rifle.

``At this point we have no idea where he is,″ DeSalme said. ``This is an area he’s lived his whole life.″

Finding him could be tough. The town about 120 miles southwest of St. Louis is surrounded by the sprawling Mark Twain National Forest, and it takes a slow drive down hilly, winding roads there.

``You could go 30 or 40 miles without running into civilization,″ said D.A. Nichols, a state conservation agent. ``If he knows where he’s going, he could stay in the timber for a long time.″

The wounded city worker, Delmar Dunn, 51, remained hospitalized early Friday in serious condition. Steve Stoops, 41, the town marshal who was shot in the arm, was treated and released.

The feud between Watson, who works for a lead mining company, and the city began about 10 years ago when Watson purchased the vacant lot where the city held an easement, Alderman Rexel Conway said.

But Watson never agreed the city had a right to a portion of his land, Conway said. ``He didn’t want us on his property.″

Police said Watson had never before been in trouble with the law.

``He really never caused any problems. Like anybody else in a small town, he’d lend a helping hand,″ said resident Quinton Barton, 49, who grew up with Watson. ``We can’t even comprehend anything like this happening.″


On the Net:

Missouri State Highway Patrol: http://www.mshp.state.mo.us

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