A white man shot his Black neighbor in Missouri, claiming self-defense. Neighbors tell a different story.

Tensions are building in a small, rural community in Missouri over the death of a Black man shot by his neighbor in a trailer park.


12/4/2021 9:01:00 PM

The fatal shooting of a Black man in a trailer park is rocking a rural community in Missouri as neighbors who say they witnessed the killing dispute the police narrative of events.

Tensions are building in a small, rural community in Missouri over the death of a Black man shot by his neighbor in a trailer park.

Eva Bruns calls for a more thorough investigation of the death of her son Justin King in Spanish Lake, Mo., on Nov. 11.Jim Salter / AP fileDec. 4, 2021, 1:05 PM UTC/Dec. 4, 2021, 2:21 PM UTCByMarlene LenthangThe fatal shooting of a Black man in a trailer park is rocking a rural community in Missouri as neighbors who say they witnessed the killing dispute the police narrative of events.

Justin King, a 28-year-old Black and Filipino man, was shot Nov. 3 at 11:45 a.m.in the small town of Bourbon, located about 73 miles southwest of St. Louis.Police say he was shot by the owner of a home he was trying to break into, but witnesses and family members say he was shot in"cold blood" by a man he called his friend.

King succumbed to his wounds at the scene. The 42-year-old white neighbor who shot him was taken into custody and later released.Justin King and his daughter.Courtesy John KingThe Crawford County Sheriff's Department said King was shot"after forcing entry into a neighboring residence where an altercation took place." The homeowner"feared for his life" and shot King, the department said in a headtopics.com

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.The department said evidence, video surveillance and statements"preliminarily corroborate the homeowner's account of the events."But family members of King and five people who live in the trailer park told NBC News they doubt that narrative.

Three neighbors told NBC News the shooter was a man who had expressed a desire to kill someone, has a history of violence and was known to use racial epithets. Several neighbors said King and the shooter were friends.Nimrod Chapel Jr., the president of the Missouri NAACP, who is representing the King family, said Justin King was shot outside the neighbor's home and had not entered it, contrary to the sheriff's account.

"The only person that says it's a home invasion is the guy that shot my son," King's father, John King, told NBC News."And all the neighbors are saying, 'No, you shot him in cold blood outside.'""He had no shirt on, only pajama bottoms. So how was he a threat?" John King said."Justin was shot in cold blood outside in broad daylight."

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UnderMissouri's"castle doctrine" law, individuals are allowed to use deadly force against intruders without the duty to retreat, based on the notion that their home is"their castle."The shooter, whose name has not been made public and who is not facing charges, did not reply to NBC News' request for comment. headtopics.com

What happened on Nov. 3Neighbors described King as a happy-go-lucky man who always offered a helping hand. He had moved to Bourbon from St. Louis recently to be close to his 9-year-old daughter, Harlee.Lesa Stiller, the manager of the trailer park, said she saw King outside heading toward the neighbor's trailer moments before the shooting. All of a sudden, she heard a"pop, pop, pop."

"And right at that last pop, I saw Justin slowly stagger backwards real slow with his hands up in the air," near the outdoor front steps of the shooter's trailer, Stiller recalled. She noted that she didn't see King enter the trailer itself and that King and the shooter lived across from each other.

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"I heard him say, 'I thought we were friends.' And [the neighbor] said, 'We were!' and he just slowly walked back," she said.Another neighbor, Katie Bosek, described King as"a gentle man who helped everybody." She said he helped her search for her dogs that went missing the same day as the shooting. Later that day, King and the neighbor who shot him worked together to fix her car, she said.

"They both got under the hood together. They're just cutting it up laughing as they're doing it," she said.She claimed she saw King and the neighbor walk off together. She said she heard three gunshots about 15 minutes later and rushed to the window to see King lying on the ground. headtopics.com

Trina Willson, who lives several trailers behind the shooter, said:"He knew Justin. You would think that if your friend was coming into your house, you'd be like, 'Hey, man, what are you doing?' Why do you automatically resort to pulling out a gun and shooting him? How can this even possibly go down as self-defense?"

Chapel noted that the neighbor and King had cameras at their homes. Police have not released any video footage from the incident to the public or the family but said they have"viewed all videos at our disposal." The Crawford County Sheriff's Department said it intends to share the footage"upon the final case review by the county prosecutor."

King's death has torn apart the close-knit community in the small town of Bourbon, home to 1,600 residents."It's been crazy here since that. We've never had nothing like that in this little small town since I've been here in 20 years," Earl McCoy, another neighbor, said."We take care of each other in here. It's been eerily quiet here. It was like a ghost town."

A history of threatening violence and racist languageThree people who live in the park said the neighbor who shot King had threatened violence before.Stiller said the neighbor was known to show off his gun — including once at a party she threw on Oct. 30.

"He never went anywhere without that .32 in his belt," she said.Bosek recalled that King told her months before the shooting that the neighbor had threatened to shoot him."Justin came over about two months prior to all this happening. He was like, 'You know he threatened to shoot me? Yeah, that dude threatened to shoot me,'" she said."Justin was such a good guy. He would always forgive people and keep going back."

McCoy said the shooter"had guns all over his house.""The last time I talked to [the neighbor] was at a party on Halloween when he showed everybody his little pistol," McCoy said."He said, 'I don't fight no more; I shoot motherf------.'"

King's father believes the shooting was an act of"racially motivated hate" and said his son was the only Black person in that trailer community.Two neighbors also said the shooter was known to use racial slurs."He was always open with the N-word. He never said 'Black man,'" Stiller said.

"He would blurt [racial epithets] out. He wouldn't call it to Justin if he was standing around me and Justin because he knows I'd knock his a-- off," McCoy said.The neighbor who shot King has a criminal record involving violence. He was arrested in June 2017 and charged with second-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon while intoxicated, both felonies, according to court records.

Court records do not show if those charges were dismissed. The Crawford County court clerk declined to comment, and the Crawford County prosecutor's office did not respond to NBC News' request for comment on those charges.

Read more: NBC News »

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Why do I think we're NOT getting the whole story here?... Where is Da love? You force your way into someone’s home, you deserve it. WaukeshaMassacre 👀👀👀👀 Strange country that lets people shoot others and get away with it at the flimsiest of excuses! Here we go again with NBC trying so hard to start another riot

GREAT That is our America police protecting white people killing our people of color! America is DOOMED !!! GOOD Missouri is a very racist state no surprise they will protect their own. My condolence to his family and pray he gets his true justice soon.

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RIP 💐 Bet this guy's rap sheet is a mile long After growing up in Missouri, this doesn’t even remotely surprise me! Our justice system isn’t even remotely just especially there. 🤦🏼‍♂️ Neocons seek to kill off POC A felon with a gun!! And here we go,every murderer will claim self defense. Here we go again

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The NAACPs leader is named Nimrod lol The only story that makes this make sense is the shooter talking openly about n******, King taking offense, and rather than the shooter taking some licks, he shot him. Where's the video?

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