PLATTE COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -- Family members of two men shot and killed during a dispute about firewood in February are upset that a grand jury declined to indict the man who shot them.
The grand jury “found no crime had been committed in the shooting.”
The deadly shooting happened on Feb. 10 following a dispute over about $200 worth of firewood. According to the Platte County prosecutor, the two men who were killed were followed by a man who believed they gave his father less firewood than he paid for.
Prosecutors say while the man’s father called 911, the 22-year-old man used his vehicle to chase Kalob Lawson and Jonathan Lutz until he caught up with them along Highway 9. Their vehicles stopped on the shoulder of the highway.
“The last part John said was, ‘I love you,’” Jonathan Lutz’s Wife Bobbie Dority said.
According to prosecutors, witnesses said the man stepped out of his vehicle and said something like, “Are you just going to rob my dad?” He told investigators that Lawson said something to the effect of, “You better get back in your car and go back to daddy or we are going to [expletive] you up.”
He said Lawson and Lutz walked toward him, and Lawson raised his gun and pointed it at him. The man said he then reached into his open car door, removed a gun that was in a magnetic holster near his steering wheel, and fired multiple times.
“My son didn't deserve to be shot over firewood and neither did John,” Kalob Lawson’s father David Lawson said. “If he was going to stand his ground, he should have standed it at his home. Instead he chased them down through two counties.”
Prosecutors say Lawson was hit by bullets in the chest and face, and Lutz was hit in the abdomen and shoulder. The man who shot them left the scene, went home, and called 911 to tell police that he had shot two people. He voluntarily surrendered to Sheriff’s deputies.
Relatives of Lawson and Lutz disagree with the grand jury’s decision.
“I was devastated. I can't believe this case has gone where it's gone. It’s ridiculous,” David Lawson said. “I was a bounty hunter for four years. At one time, it cost people money to get out of jail for little things. This guy kills two people, walks away from the scene of the crime doesn't do any time on that either.”
“This is a tragic case in which two people died in a dispute over a mere $200 of firewood, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families. Ultimately, however, after carefully considering the facts and hearing from multiple witnesses, the grand jury found no crime had been committed in the shooting,” Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said in a written statement. “
Lawson and Lutz’s relatives say they are speaking with an attorney.
“Missouri’s ‘stand your ground’ law means people do not have to retreat before using force to defend themselves if they are in a place they have a right to be. 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,” Zahnd said.