Man killed in a deputy-involved shooting in Greene County, Mo.

Businesses and neighbors say heavy foot-traffic comes in and out of abandoned homes in the area
Published: Apr. 7, 2023 at 10:45 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2023 at 10:14 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -A man is dead after a shooting involving Greene County Sheriff’s Deputies Friday morning. The deputies were called to a convenience store in the 5000 block of West Sunshine west of the Springfield city limits at 8:13 a.m. after a clerk identified a woman involved in a previous theft.

The woman ran across the road to an abandoned house. The deputies went to check the house and encountered the woman. She came out at 8:35 a.m. and was taken into custody.

The deputies then found a man, identified as 43-year-old Michael Gann of Springfield, holding a gun to his head. Sheriff Jim Arnott said Gann told deputies “to shoot me, I’m not going back.” The deputies shot Gann after he lunged at them. Arnott said the deputies administered first aid, but Gann died.

Michael Gann. Courtesy: Greene County Sheriff's Office
Michael Gann. Courtesy: Greene County Sheriff's Office(KY3)

Arnott said it is not known if Gann shot at deputies. The sheriff’s critical investigative team which consists of the Christian, Greene, Lawrence and Webster County Sheriff’s Offices is now investigating. The two deputies are on administrative leave which is standard protocol when they are involved in a shooting.

The Greene County Sheriff’s Office says Gann was a non-compliant registered sex offender with an outstanding probation violation warrant.

“The deputies are obviously upset, shaken but they are not wounded. The sad news is they had to take a life,” said Arnott.

Arnott said a nearby neighbor stopped and said they had items stolen and the neighbor believes those items are inside the house. “I would assume that we will recover some stolen property,” said Arnott.

Erin Houston. Courtesy: Greene County Sheriff's Office
Erin Houston. Courtesy: Greene County Sheriff's Office(KY3)

The woman has been identified as 41-year-old Erin Houston of Ozark. She was arrested for several active warrants and probable cause for stealing, trespassing, and burglary and transported to the Greene County Jail.

The clerk at the convenience store told KY3 that she believed the couple involved in the shooting were the same people featured on KY3′s weekly segment “Catch a Crook” the night before. The segment, produced in cooperation with the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, featured surveillance footage from late March at the same convenience store where a woman served as a lookout while the man stole a display with 24 watches on it valued at around $1,500.

The clerk said when she saw the woman back at the store Friday morning she called 911 and the woman fled towards the abandoned home across the street, leading to the eventual confrontation with Greene County deputies.

“Obviously this house is posted with ‘Private Property’, ‘Keep Out’ and ‘No Trespassing’ signs,” said Arnott in pointing at the warning postings at the entrance to the property. “But we know anytime there’s abandoned houses and places like that we run into these situations with illegal encampments. Unfortunately, people need to know that just because someone is homeless doesn’t mean they are not a dangerous person. This person had a gun and crimes were committed in the area. Deputies were called here by the store to check on a suspect from a previous stealing, and this is what we encountered. The good news is nobody else was hurt but the sad news is they had to take a life.”

Directly across the four-lane highway from the home and next door to the convenience store is a business owned by Courtland Bateman that manages the fleet of e-scooters in downtown Springfield. Bateman said the area had experienced an uptick in homeless people and had seen the couple before.

“We’ve had a homeless population increase around here for a couple of years now ever since COVID,” he explained. “They’re around at all hours but especially in the morning you’ll see them coming out from a wooded area behind a trailer park. They hang out around the back of the shop and numerous times they’ll be sitting right here at the front on an embankment. But to have something this severe happen is really shocking and concerning.”

Other neighbors in the area also say the homeless problem is growing and heavy foot traffic would go in and out of the abandoned home.

“There is a problem with homeless people going in and out of that home,” said Robert Fanning, who lives across the highway. “It has been empty for 27 years, and lots of people are going in and out of there.”

Fanning says he hopes the city puts more resources into addressing the issue.

“It’s unfortunate, but as the city grows more people are coming this way, and now we are experiencing more gunshots at night,” said Fanning.

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