HERCULANEUM, Mo. – Fox 2/News 11 confirmed new details about a recent police chase and exchange of gunfire that ended with a suspect being killed in Festus.
The incident began Friday, August 24 the Interstate 55 on-ramp from McNutt Road in Herculaneum.
Police stopped a black SUV with the same description and license plate number as that of a vehicle wanted in connection with a person seen hanging around schools in the Dunklin School District.
The vehicle’s owner, 56-year-old Mark Easter of Crystal City, is a sex offender who had failed to update his status on the state sex offender registry as required by law.
Authorities suspected Easter had been trying to lure children with the vehicle spotted near schools at least three times in the past few weeks.
The driver of the vehicle was not Mark Easter, but rather his 35-year-old son, Adam.
Police said Adam Easter led officers on a nearly 30-minute chase, repeatedly shooting at them along the way.
“We know there was gunfire by the suspect at law enforcement at Highway M and I-55, around Highway Z and Front Street, at the residence (in Festus where he was killed). I think there may have been more gunfire in Arnold but that has not been confirmed yet,” said Captain Gary Higginbotham, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.
Authorities said Adam and Mark were both in the car when the pursuit started. However, once his son started firing at police, Mark said he wanted out. Adam let him out near I-55 and Highway M.
Adam Easter then continued to the unoccupied Festus home where he once lived with his ex-wife and two children. He drove into the garage door and shot at police. Six officers returned fire. Adam Easter was later found dead inside the SUV.
Authorities initially suspected that Mark Easter, who sexually assaulted a 15-year-old female in Jefferson County in 1987, was trying to entice children in the Dunklin School District.
It was actually his son, Adam, spotted near the schools in his father’s SUV, police said.
It’s believed Adam Easter may have been trying to track down his ex-wife’s new boyfriend. She had a restraining order against Adam, who was wanted for violating that order in April.
“It was also determined that (Adam) Easter may not have been trying to lure children but rather was attempting to locate the residence of an individual who was involved with his ex-wife,” said Herculaneum Police Chief Mark Tulgetske. “Herculaneum officers were also able to confirm … Adam Easter has applied for and been denied the purchase of a firearm five days prior to the initial report date.”
Amazingly, no one else was hurt, including an officer who was briefly dragged as he held onto Easter’s vehicle at the beginning of the pursuit.
Fox2/News 11 also confirmed the medical examiner is looking at whether Adam Easter may have actually shot and killed himself in addition to being hit by police gunfire.