POTOSI – Public safety officers and members of the public gathered Saturday in Potosi to mourn the loss of Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Parsons, who was killed in the line of duty.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP), Parsons was shot while assisting emergency medical services on a call for an unconscious person early Saturday morning on Nugget Road in the Springtown area of Washington County.
The Associated Press reported Sunday that Gary Sancegrow of Mineral Point has been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting death of Christopher Parsons, 31, Sheriff Andy Skiles said. He said Sancegrow, whose name has also been spelled Sancegraw, was being held Sunday without bond at an undisclosed location.
“The sheriff’s department is taking it hard, as any of us would as a member of our own,” said Missouri State Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Juston Wheetley He’s a member of the law enforcement family around here. He’s well known by many of the people. He’s a young guy who just started out his career. Its very tragic and they’re all taking it really hard.”
According to officials, a 9-1-1 call was received at 2:10 a.m. Paramedics responded along with Deputy Parsons, who was there to provide support. As the unconscious victim was being loaded into the ambulance a single shot came from the nearby woods, fatally wounding the deputy.
Law enforcement officers from across southeast Missouri assisted with the ensuing manhunt. Armed deputies set up roadblocks in the search area. K-9 officers and aerial support were also used in the search of the area, which is a mixture of abandoned strip mines, forest and hills.
The primary suspect, Sancegrow, a 30-year-old white male, 6 feet tall, 200 pounds with brown eyes and red hair has been taken into custody. According to police he was apprehended in a vehicle on a county road. They say he surrendered without incident.
Officials would not confirm if there was any relation between the unconscious person and the suspect. A motive for the shooting has not been determined.
Parsons was with the department for two months. He was a recent graduate of the Mineral Area College Law Enforcement Academy in Park Hills. Officials said he died early Saturday at Washington County Memorial Hospital.
A candlelight vigil was held for the fallen officer at 7 p.m. at Moore Funeral Home in Potosi. Friends, family and public safety officers from across southeast Missouri attended the vigil. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Pat Pratt is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010 ext. 172 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In response to Saturday’s fatal shooting of Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Parsons and the subsequent arrest of a suspect, statements from several state legislators were received by the Daily Journal and appear below:
“It’s a tragedy when something happens like this, particularly to first responders who are trying to help someone in an emergency. To have someone like that killed in such a way, especially so young and with their whole lives ahead of them, it’s just terrible.
“Combined with what’s happened in Connecticut, it makes you wonder what’s happening in our nation when people will just shoot and kill innocent people like that. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family in the loss of this young man and dedicated law enforcement officer.” – Sen. Kevin Engler (3rd District)
“My prayers go out to the family of Deputy Chris Parsons. I had an opportunity to meet Deputy Parsons sometime ago and he loved his career of service and the protecting of those in his community.
“I want to say thanks to all of the local and state agencies that worked so hard to capture the man responsible for this cowardice act. May his punishment be swift and severe.” – Rep. Paul Fitzwater (152nd District)
“My deepest sympathy goes out to the family and friends of Deputy Parsons. His untimely passing brings grief to our community. Now we are faced with a challenge — how to prevent future tragedies from occurring. This will take a combined effort between law enforcement, mental health professionals and legislators.
“The criminal climate has changed. We must adjust accordingly for the safety of our citizens and the law enforcement community.” – Rep. Linda Black (107th District)