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Man who shot Jasper County deputy sentenced in federal court

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A man who shot a Jasper County deputy before shooting himself at a Joplin hotel will spend 25 years in prison. A judge sentenced E.F. Fitchpatrick, Jr. today in federal court for drug trafficking and illegally discharging a firearm.

U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool gave Fitchpatrick 25 years in federal prison without parole. The court sentenced him to 350 months in prison, but gave him credit for the 50 months he already served in state custody in connection with a related offense. Judge Harpool sentenced Fitchpatrick as a career offender due to his prior felony convictions.

Fitchpatrick pleaded guilty in June 2020 to the two charges. According to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, he admitted that he participated in a conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine from Feb. 18 to March 1, 2017. He just got out of federal prison a few months before that. He was traveling back and forth to Texas to pick up meth in the weeks before his arrest. Prosecutors say he distributed meth to several people in Joplin.

The Shooting at a Joplin Hotel

On March 1, 2107, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at the Econolodge Inn and Suites at 3510 S. Rangeline Road in Joplin. After several failed attempts to open the room door with the hotel key card, officers attempted to ram the door, but were not able to get the door open.

An Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team (ODET) detective used the battering ram to knock out the hotel room window. Another ODET detective reached in the window to move the curtain. That’s when Fitchpatrick, who was standing in the bathroom doorway, shot the detective in the left side of his body. Fitchpatrick then retreated to the bathroom and barricaded himself inside.

Joplin police officers, utilizing a robot, were able to see that the bathroom door was closed with towels stuffed at the bottom of the door. After a couple of hours and numerous attempts and tactics, Fitchpatrick was taken into custody. Fitchpatrick had flushed the remaining drugs and shot himself in the face while barricaded inside the bathroom.

Inside the hotel room, officers found the Hi-Point .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun used in the shooting, drug paraphernalia, and items with methamphetamine residue.

In July 2019, a jury in McDonald County found Fitchpatrick not guilty of unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action.

In August 2019 he was federally indicted.

Deputy Nolan Murray has since recovered.

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This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica R. Sarff. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team, and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department.

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