One dead following shooting on Meramec River


James Crocker

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CRAWFORD COUNTY, MO (KTVI)- A float trip on the Meramec River turned deadly Saturday. Crawford County officials say the victim was floating when an argument over private property lead to a shooting. It happened near the Highway 19 bridge west of Steelville, MO.

The suspect, identified as James R. Crocker, 59, of Steelville, MO, reportedly walked to a nearby home and asked the woman there to call 911 because he had just shot someone on the river.

When Crawford County Sheriff's Deputies arrived at the scene they found the victim, Paul Dart, Jr., 48, from Franklin County, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head on a gravel bar along the river. Despite lifesaving efforts, Dart later died.

Several people on the scene stated that the two men had argued over whether the Dart was standing on the Crocker's property. The witnesses said the argument escalated and Crocker pulled a gun, firing several shots.

Crocker was taken into custody. He told police that he found Dart urinating on the gravel bar, which he claimed he owned. When asked to leave, Crocker says Dart refused claiming the area was public property. He said that the group of floaters and he argued for about ten minutes before he fired shots. He also told police he had to defend his property.

Crocker has been charged with 2nd Degree Murder and a cash only bond was set at $650,000. He remains in custody.

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