Suspect in shooting death of Hermann policeman, wounding of another charged with murder, assault

By Buck Collier, Special Correspondent
Posted 3/15/23

HERMANN — A 35-year-old Eureka man flushed with tear gas from his hiding place Monday afternoon was scheduled to be arraigned at 8 a.m. today (Wednesday)  on first-degree murder and felony …

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Suspect in shooting death of Hermann policeman, wounding of another charged with murder, assault


HERMANN — A 35-year-old Eureka man flushed with tear gas from his hiding place Monday afternoon was scheduled to be arraigned at 8 a.m. today (Wednesday)  on first-degree murder and felony assault charges related to his alleged killing of one Hermann policeman and the serious wounding of another Sunday as they tried to apprehend him on several outstanding warrants.

Kenneth Lee Simpson, 35, faces five felony charges in the death of Det. Sgt. Mason Griffith, 34, of Rosebud, and the wounding of Hermann patrolman Adam Sullentrup, 31. Simpson allegedly shot the policemen after they confronted him inside Casey’s General Store along Highway 19/Market Street in Hermann. Simpson, who has a long criminal history, is named in several outstanding warrants issued by courts in area counties. The shooting took place shortly after 9 Sunday night.

Simpson is being held without bond in the Crawford County jail in Steelville.

He was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder (a class A felony), two counts of armed criminal action (unclassified felonies), first-degree assault causing serious injury to a special victim (law enforcement, a class A felony), and the class D felony unlawful possession of a firearm.

Simpson’s apprehension came Monday afternoon after a lengthy standoff with law enforcement personnel led by the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) surrounding a house not far from Casey’s. The standoff ended at 1:49 p.m. after tear gas was fired into the residence, sending Simpson out a side door where he was taken to the ground and placed into custody without further incident.

Griffith was a veteran law enforcement officer, serving previously with the Gasconade County Sheriff’s Department and, along with being a member of the Hermann Police Department, served as police chief in Rosebud. He was also active with other public-service agencies including as a volunteer fireman with the Gerald-Rosebud Fire Protection District. Sullentrup recently joined the Hermann Police Department and had previously worked on New Haven’s police force.

Hermann-area residents awoke Monday morning not knowing where Simpson was.

The community responded in a highly cautious manner with the Gasconade County R-1 School District canceling classes, the Hermann Area District Hospital locking its doors and Hermann City Hall closing for business shortly after beginning the day. The Gasconade County Health Department also closed for business.

Activities at Hermann Medical Clinics in the Bavarian Hills Shopping Center also were affected during the standoff with patients having appointments that day being contacted for rescheduling.

A command post was set up at Hermann Fire Department’s Station 1 at Washington Street and Highway 100. The parking lot quickly filled with Missouri State Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agency vehicles. Law enforcement personnel regularly filed in and out of the firehouse, with tactical-gear-outfitted members of the Patrol’s SWAT team on hand. The MSHP was assisted by the Hermann Police Department, Gasconade County Sheriff’s Department, Osage County Sheriff’s Department, St. Charles County Police SWAT team, St. Charles County Police Bomb Squad, U.S. Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service, Hermann Fire Department and Hermann Area Ambulance District.

The standoff, located at the residence at 102 Highway 19 (Market Street) prompted the closing of the busy thoroughfare from the 19-100 intersection to near 6th Street with traffic diverted onto what is the city’s Flood Route for getting into the downtown area during periods of high water. With MSHP considering the residence still a crime scene after Simpson’s arrest, the section of highway remained closed for some time.

Word that Simpson had fled Casey’s after the shooting prompted extra precautions being taken Sunday night even by residents living many miles from Hermann in all directions. Speculation as to his whereabouts ranged widely, from his traveling west on Highway 100 to heading north on Highway H.

Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesmen addressing the media Monday afternoon outside the Hermann police station termed the police officers’ encounter with Simpson as an altercation but would not elaborate (see related story).

A vehicle description posted in a “Blue Alert” by the MSHP was one “the suspect had access to” the Patrol’s spokesmen said. At the time of the shooting, and in the immediate aftermath, investigators were unsure of how Simpson left the scene. He apparently left on foot and went into the house at 102 Market (Highway 19) just a block away. There were reports that occupants of the residence were told by Simpson to leave.

Law enforcement personnel present at the arrest shared what they knew with fellow lawmen following a receiving line and salute for Griffith at Gottenstroeter Funeral Home in Owensville. Attempts to use robotics equipment and drones were hampered when the bot encountered a stairwell to the basement which was closed off. A drone flown into the residence also encountered the closed doorway.

Tear gas was deployed and Simpson shortly before 2 p.m. walked out of a side door with his arms raised. He reportedly discarded the handgun believed to have been used in the shooting of Griffith and Sullentrup. Lawmen were seen taking Simpson to the ground and securing him in footage aired Tuesday evening by KSDK.

After his arrest, Simpson was taken to Hermann Area District Hospital for a fit-for-confinement examination before being placed in the Crawford County Jail. He is being held without bond.

A 2 p.m. funeral service is scheduled Sunday, March 19, at Owensville High School. Visitation is planned starting at 9 a.m. in the school’s large gym.