Missouri legislative aide arrested after gun dropped during bar fight
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A top aide to a Missouri state senator was arrested after a loaded gun fell to the floor during a fight at a Jefferson City bar, according to Cole County authorities.
Jared Brown, of Malden, was booked into jail after police were called to the Spectator's Bar and Grill early last Thursday. Brown, who is chief of staff for Republican Sen. Justin Brown, had not been officially charged as of Wednesday. The two are not related.
A police report said a 9mm pistol loaded with five rounds fell to the floor. It was recovered by another bar patron and Jared Brown, 45, was arrested, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The senator in a statement said his aide is on a leave of absence.
"I'm focused on representing the folks that I was sent here to represent," Justin Brown said. "Jared is taking a leave of absence and getting the help he needs."
Hours earlier, two state House members were involved in an incident at another Jefferson City bar that left one of them with a black eye. The incidents occurred after a House committee heard debate on legislation that would allow concealed weapons in public places that currently ban guns.
Lauren Gepford, executive director of the Missouri Democratic Party, issued a statement Tuesday calling the two incidents "not just embarrassing but alarming." The statement also noted that on Tuesday, some Missouri GOP lawmakers argued in favor of advancing legislation that would allow concealed weapons in a drinking establishment without training or licensing.
"Missourians should be concerned that the legislators responsible for drafting this bad policy are engaging in such irresponsible actions," Gepford said. "Speaker (Elijah) Haahr and Senate President (Pro Tem Dave) Schatz must act decisively to assure Missourians that the public, and our school children, will be safe when visiting their state capital."
In the police report, Jefferson City police said a "visibly intoxicated" Jared Brown told police he carried the gun because he has received death threats due to his job with the senator's office. Police told Brown it was "not a good choice" to bring a gun into a bar and Brown eventually agreed, the report said.
Brown also said "I wish my gun was closer — I woulda used it," and never told police he was in fear for his safety or his life, the report said.
Jared Brown began working for former Sen. Dan Brown, a Republican, in 2013. He remained in the office after Dan Brown left because of term limits last year and his son, Justin, won an election for the seat.
In the other incident, GOP Reps. Nick Schroer of O'Fallon and Bruce DeGroot of Chesterfield said DeGroot's eye was accidentally injured while they were "joking around" and wrestling at the Eagles Club in Jefferson City on Wednesday night.
"I accidentally hurt his eye when he tried to take me down and I used an MMA move," Schroer said.
DeGroot also said the injury was an accident.
A House committee heard debate last Wednesday on legislation that would allow concealed weapons in public institutions that currently ban guns, such as college campuses, churches, child care facilities and polling places. Private businesses, which now have to give permission to allow concealed carry, would default to allowing the weapons unless they indicate otherwise.
Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, said the incident involving Brown represents what lawmakers discussed at the hearing.
"People bring a gun in thinking it's for self-defense, but in a bar, fights happen, and guns only make those fights more dangerous," he said.
Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Locke Thompson said an initial referral from Jefferson City police was under review by his office. Thompson said his office was waiting for a full report, "which will be reviewed before making any formal charging decisions."
Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, a Republican, said he'll wait to see how the process plays out. Senate Democrats declined to comment.