Friends of shooting victim want police to make arrest

1 year 1 month 3 weeks ago Tuesday, May 30 2017 May 30, 2017 Tuesday, May 30, 2017 9:12:00 PM CDT May 30, 2017 in News
By: James Packard, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - Friends of a man killed in a shooting last week said they believe the information released by police doesn't tell the whole story and are calling for an arrest in his death.

"It's not some crack head junkie living on a street that was shot," said, Mike Francis, a friend of Cameron Caruthers, who was killed May 22. "It's somebody that, you know, a lot of people in this city cared about very dearly and we just don't want his name painted as some kind of criminal when he's not."

Caruthers, 28, died after being shot inside a home on Dawn Ridge Drive off Clark Lane on May 22. 

Initially, Columbia police said Caruthers was killed after a home invasion. But in their updated news release the next day, police said Caruthers and another man, who was found in the house with him, knew each other. They also said robbery was not a motive in the shooting.

Police did not name a suspect in the shooting or say if anyone had been arrested but said the man who was in the home with Caruthers was questioned and released.

Francis said that man was Ricky Gurley. Gurley's lawyer, Stephen Wyse, corroborated that and said the shooting was not a criminal act.

"I believe the use of force was, was justified," Wyse said. "There was a recording of the, as event were occurring that was provided to the police. After, you know, listening to that recording, um, the police made the determination that an arrest was not appropriate."

Francis, who served with Caruthers in Iraq, said he doesn't think Gurley had any justification for what he did.

"From what his [Caruthers'] girlfriend's saying, he's [Gurley]not somebody you wanna be friends with," Francis said. 

The shooting

Caruthers had been staying at 1304 Dawn Ridge Road on and off with his girlfriend and Gurley, according to Gurley's attorney and Francis. 

He said Caruthers was not living at the home on May 22, but he went to the house to get several sentimental items, while having a fight with his girlfriend.

Francis said Caruthers did not force his way into the house, but that his girlfriend, who friends said lived there, let him in. 

When he showed up, Francis said, Caruthers and Gurley started fighting. He said Gurley brought out a gun and shot Caruthers, who suffered a fatal wound to the abdomen and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Caruthers was unarmed and had his hands raised when the shooting happened, according to Francis.

When asked to corroborate that account Tuesday, Columbia police said only there were no updates on the shooting. 

Wyse said police made the decision not to arrest Gurley based on what they heard on a recording made on Gurley's phone. Wyse said he cannot access the recording because police seized Gurley's electronics.

Wyse said what happened on the recording backed up Gurley's use of force

"There had been ample communication, uh, requests to, um, to leave the premises, and advising that he was regarded as a threat," Wyse said. "I think the law enforcement officers who are investigating made a determination. I think the determination deserves some respect. I think that they understand Missouri law with regard to a homeowner telling an unwanted, an unlawful visitor, that they are expected to leave."

The roommate

Gurley is listed online as a private investigator. As of Tuesday afternoon, the phone number listed on the website for his business was disconnected. An attempt to contact Gurley via his website's contact form had not gotten a response Tuesday afternoon.

In 2010, the Columbia Tribune reported that Gurley ruffled feathers at the Columbia Police Department. Gurley said officers unlawfully beat a man who was arrested and charged with resisting arrest. 

in 1996, Gurley was convicted of felonious restraint in North Carolina and served 4 months behind bars.

"That charge occurred a long time ago," Gurley's lawyer said. "I know that Mr. Gurley was a bondsman at the time and was working to take into custody someone who had skipped on a bond and that the laws of North Carolina were such that he got in trouble for that."

Police have responded to Gurley's address at least seven times in the last year, according to police logs. Three time for trespassing, twice to keep the peace, once for a disturbance and once for a robbery: the day Caruthers was shot.

"I'm not gonna comment on that," Gurley's lawyer said twice.

Wyse couldn't assure KOMU 8 News that Gurley would not be charged. 

"It would be premature for the police to absolutely say that," Wyse said. "But the fact that they have not made an arrest is very important."

Police would not give any information about the case Tuesday. When asked via email if there was a threat to public safety, police did not respond, as of Tuesday afternoon. 

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