PLATTE COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -- A Platte County grand jury has declined to recommend charges against a man who shot and killed two people on the side of the road in a dispute over a firewood sale.
The situation began when two men---Kalob Lawson, 34, of Kimberling City, and Jonathan Lutz, 44, of Kansas City, MO---were paid $200 to deliver a cord of firewood to a Platte County home on Feb. 10. The homeowner paid the men and left while they were unloading the firewood. The men delivered far less than a cord-worth of wood, then left, according to the Platte County prosecutor.
The homeowner's 22-year-old son noticed less wood was delivered than what was paid for, and chased the men down in his vehicle. Both vehicles stopped on the shoulder of eastbound 9 Highway, just west of the Please Stop convenience store, with the homeowner's son confronting the men and saying, "Are you just going to rob my dad?" according to the prosecutor's summary of the events.
Lawson and Lutz, the two men who had delivered the wood, got out of their vehicle, with Lawson armed with a 9-millimeter handgun. "You better get back in your car and go back to daddy, or we are going to (expletive) you up" the son recalled Lawson saying.
As Lawson and Lutz continued walking toward the 22 year old, he pulled a gun that was in a magnetic holster near his steering wheel, firing multiple times at the two men, the prosecutor said.
The shots hit Lawson in the chest and face, killing him at the scene. Lutz was hit in the abdomen and shoulder, and died at the hospital later.
The 22 year old went home and called 911 to tell them he had shot two people. He then voluntarily surrendered to the Platte County Sheriff's Office.
"Missouri stand-your-ground laws mean people do not have to retreat before using force to defend themselves if they are in a place they have a right to be," Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said. "And while people can never use deadly force merely to protect property, they can use deadly force if they reasonably believe deadly force is necessary to protect themselves against death or serious physical injury."
The families of the two men killed urged authorities to carry out justice in the months following the shooting. Lawson's family and friends said he was a hard-working father of three who was engaged to be married.
“He was an arborist, a true arborist. He would get up in those trees and just get up there and go to work,” friend Dan Penrod said. “That's what they were doing -- was delivering firewood that night, to try to make a little bit of money.”
Family members say 44-year-old Jonathan Lutz and a teenager helped Kalob Lawson drop off firewood that night. The teenager was unharmed in the incident.