Today's Paper Latest After 9/11 Coronavirus iPad Core Values Weather The Article Story ideas Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive

Missouri AG closes records complaint Detective: Suspect targeted white men

by The Associated Press | June 15, 2021 at 2:00 a.m.

Missouri AG closes

records complaint

The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The Missouri attorney general has closed an open-records complaint filed against Gov. Mike Parson, citing the Republican governor's office as a client.

At issue is a complaint filed by a Missouri news agency after Parson's office refused to provide resignation letters from top administration officials Randall Williams, the health director, and former Chief Operating Officer Drew Erdmann. The two left Parson's administration in April but no information was provided as to why.

Parson's office declined to provide Williams' and Erdmann's resignation letters to The Associated Press and also denied a Missouri Independent records request.

Parson spokeswoman Kelli Jones has said resignation letters are closed personnel records, although she provided former Social Services Department Director Steve Corsi's resignation letter to AP in 2019.

A Missouri Independent reporter in response asked Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt's office to investigate.

"Missouri residents deserve to have access to records related to the sudden resignations of two top officials paid for with taxpayer dollars who helped oversee the state's response to the covid-19 pandemic and vaccine rollout that have affected every Missourian for more than a year," reporter Tessa Weinberg wrote in the complaint.

Schmitt's office closed Weinberg's complaint last week. In a letter to the Missouri Independent, Assistant Attorney General James Klahr advised the reporter to contact a private lawyer.

"This entity is a client of our office," said Klahr, referencing Parson's office. "Staff cannot discuss any action our office may take regarding this issue."

Schmitt spokesman Chris Nuelle said the office has "not been hesitant to act on potential Sunshine Law violations."

Missouri's attorney general is responsible for enforcing the state's Sunshine laws, which cover both public records and public meetings. The office also sometimes represents the Governor's Office and state agencies in lawsuits.

Detective: Suspect

targeted white men

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, GA. -- A 39-year-old man accused of shooting and wounding five people in Alabama and Georgia told police his assaults were racially motivated, and he was targeting white men, a detective testified Monday.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported that a police detective testified in a preliminary hearing that Justin Tyran Roberts, who is Black, told police that white men had picked on him and wronged him all his life.

"Basically, he explained throughout his life, specifically white males had taken from him, and also what he described as military-looking white males had taken from him," Detective Brandon Lockhart testified, according to the newspaper.

Police have accused Roberts of shooting five people in three separate assaults in Columbus, Ga., and Phenix City, Ala. All victims are expected to recover, Columbus Police Chief Freddie Blackmon said Sunday. The chief added that police found no evidence that Roberts knew any of his victims.

Roberts appeared in court Monday in Columbus for a preliminary hearing in one of those incidents where a man was shot in the back as he was getting into his vehicle.

Lockhart testified that Roberts said, "I had to have him," about one of the shooting victims.

Roberts also claimed that such men were "shooting at him in a wooded area with a slingshot," and the wounds had infected his skin, Lockhart testified. But he said police saw no injuries to substantiate that.

Public defender Robin King requested a mental health evaluation for Roberts, saying the man was suffering from delusions.

"The officer's testimony has demonstrated that Mr. Roberts is having delusions and a disconnect from reality," King told the judge.

Judge Julius Hunter found probable cause to send Roberts' case to Muscogee Superior Court.

Police said one person was hurt in a shooting Friday night at a hotel in Phenix City. Less than two hours later Friday, three people were shot in Columbus. A fifth person was shot Saturday afternoon.

Phenix City and Columbus sit on opposite sides on the Alabama-Georgia border.


Sponsor Content