By Stan Schwartz
MEXICO—A call to Audrain County Joint Communications Wednesday morning last week about a possible shooting that might take place at the courthouse, prompted a quick response from area law enforcement.
Members of the Audrain County Sheriff’s Department, Mexico Public Safety Department, and the Missouri Highway Patrol responded to the possible threat.
Maj. James Shrader, chief deputy with the Audrain County Sheriff’s office, said the caller did not make a specific threat, but said they had overheard talk of a possible shooting that would take place that day at the courthouse.
In addition to the security that normally is at the courthouse, Shrader said at least 12 more law officers responded to the possible threat by patrolling inside and outside of the building that morning.
Even though there was no specific threat made to an individual during the call, Shrader said, “One could speculate that it was regarding the homicide arraignments that were scheduled to happen that day.”
The one in particular, he noted, was for 17-year-old DeKhise Dorsey, of Mexico. In early February, Dorsey and two other teens were involved in an altercation with Ta`Juan Williams after a birthday party at the Mexico Historical Society. Williams was found shot along the 500 block of Muldrow Street by police. He later died of his injuries. The three teens turned themselves into police and Dorsey was charged with second-degree murder, first-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action. Because they are juveniles, the other two teens were not named.
At least 30 people showed up for the arraignment, Shrader said, on both sides of the case—those there for the defendants and those there for the victim. “But only five or six of them were agitators,” he added.
When asked if the increased presence of law enforcement made a difference, Shrader said, “After the presence of law enforcement showed up, yeah, the rest of the morning went without incident.
“Except for the people expressing their frustration and dislike for whatever side they’re on with this.”
He noted that most of the people there were peaceful. It was only a small group that voiced their emotions.
“It was an emotionally-charged atmosphere and tensions were high because of the incident,” he said. “Thankfully, no law violations took place there and everybody was safe.”
The court is on the second floor of the courthouse. Monday through Friday, sheriff’s deputies are assigned to bailiff and transportation duties. Depending on what’s going on during a particular day, Shrader said, there could be anywhere from two to five bailiffs at the courthouse. Visitors are screened by officers before entering the court room. The county commission also has security staff on duty during court, he said. They use hand held metal detectors to screen for weapons and other contraband.
“Historically, emotionally charged situations like this have happened before and probably will again,” Shrader said.