PARKVILLE, Mo. — Family members of two men killed in a double shooting in Parkville are expressing their disgust after a Platte County grand jury declined to charge a man.
The deaths raised eyebrows back in February when investigators shared that the conflict started over the sale of firewood.
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said Missouri’s “Stand Your Ground” law may have been the rationale for no indictment coming down but family members of the dead call that interpretation wildly inappropriate.
The shooter, described as the 22-year-old son of the person who bought the firewood, followed the wood-sellers in his vehicle to a portion of Highway 9 near the Please Stop convenience store. Both vehicles pulled over, according to a news release.
He would later tell investigators he was upset that they had been shorted on his family’s purchase of a cord of wood on that same day, February 10.
The men who died are 34-year-old Kalob Lawson of Kimberling City and 44-year-old Jonathan Lutz of Kansas City.
“This is a tragic case where two people are dead over just $200 in firewood,” Zahnd said.
“One of the men who wound up dying, Kalob Lawson, got out with a gun. Some threats were made, according to the shooter. The gun was pointed at him. At that point he reached back into his car and opened fire, ultimately killing two men,” Zahnd said.
Potential charges for the 22-year-old included murder or manslaughter. What the Platte County grand jury returned was neither.
“Saying essentially that there’s not probable cause to believe that a crime was committed,” Zahnd said.
Lawson is Kalob’s brother. He said the situation does not make sense.
“Let’s say you steal from me, so I get to chase you down with a gun? And let’s say you have a gun to protect yourself. I get to use that as an excuse to make up a lie and say that you were aggressing me with your gun, shoot and kill you, drive away from the scene instead of calling the police, and say that I felt threatened?” Kyle Lawson said.
“No. None of that makes sense and it’s not right. This kid should not walk away free,” Lawson said.
“I don’t care if my brother didn’t give them any wood or shorted them wood or whatever he did. You don’t get to chase him down with a gun and take justice into your own hands and say ‘Well I felt threatened, so I killed him,'” Lawson said.
“And then you kill John too who wasn’t even armed. And you do it in front of a 15-year-old. And then you drive off. He drove off and left the scene of a crime. He didn’t even stay there and call the cops,” Lawson said.
He said his family is stunned and that he, right now, is in a bad place with depression.
He also feels there is no avenue for change in the charges. That is also the word coming from Zahnd.
“The grand jury got all of the facts. That the shooter did follow these people and then everybody pulled over to the side of the road. They heard about what happened when everybody got out of the car,” Zahnd said.
Still, the Lawson says his family is not coping well with the decision.
“They barely call my father. They barely call my sister and tell them anything about this. They don’t even care. They just want to sweep it under the rug,” Lawson said.
“My brother was murdered. My brother was a hard worker, and I ran the business with him as well. I’m actually the one that started the business. I started the firewood and tree removal business, and I almost wish I didn’t,” Lawson said.
Under Missouri law, if you fear that someone will use deadly force or that you would be subject to serious bodily harm – you are not required to retreat and you are entitled to use deadly force.
Again, the family of the deceased dispute that this description fits what actually happened during the deaths of their relatives.