Residents say man shot by Greene county deputies is a "good neighbor"

Published: Oct. 17, 2017 at 4:25 PM CDT
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A Greene county man is recovering in the hospital after two Greene County deputies opened fire on him. They say the man pointed a gun at them. It happened in a neighborhood just southwest of Springfield city limits.

Deputies first responded to the 2600 block of West Vincent because someone reported finding a bullet hole in the outside of their house. That deputy believed the gunfire may have come from a house next door, the one where the officer-involved shooting then occurred.

Greene County deputies responded just before 10:30 Monday night. That's around the time neighbor Terry Cernech first thought he heard fireworks. "It was too metallic sounding," says Cernech. He remembers two short bursts of gunfire, about four to six rounds each. Cernech says, "I came out on the front stoop there and saw that there were police out here."

A Greene county deputy responding to the initial report of a bullet hole in a house also found bullet holes in the neighboring home. He believed that's where they originated, and decided to contact the people inside. Two deputies say they repeatedly knocked on the door, and through the glass of the closed door, they saw a man walk to a hallway, then come to the door. They say he opened the door with a gun raised at deputies, as they yelled "Sheriff's Office," then fired their weapons.

"Just heard the police; they kept saying, keep your hands up, don't put them down, keep them up," Cernech says.

The 58 year old man suffered non-life threatening injuries. His wife told us off camera, he just beat cancer, and that this ordeal is a nightmare. Cernech and other neighbors say he lives in the home with his wife and two teenage sons. "He's been working hard this last summer over on his yard, and I think he's got a workshop in his garage, so he stays busy improving his property. He's been a good neighbor," says Cernech.

It's all left people in the neighborhood shocked and puzzled. "I would suspect, probably, a miscommunication, you know, of intentions. Who knows," Cernech says.

The Sheriff's Critical Incident response team is investigating; it consists of investigators from Greene, Lawrence and Webster counties. The two deputies involved are on routine paid administrative leave.