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Man arrested by U.S. Marshals after threatening county officials

Security ramped up at courthouse before eventual arrest

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A 50-year-old Hartville man was arrested by U.S. Marshals on Feb. 8 for threatening to kill public officials and their families in Wright County. The list of affected officials includes the county sheriff, a judge and a Hartville police officer.

Lonnie Richardson was taken into custody around 11:30 a.m. by the U.S. Marshals Service-Midwest Violent Fugitive Task Force in Laclede County

Due to the nature of his threats, a cell phone company pinged a cell phone to help identify Richardson’s location, which ended up being in a rural area near Lebanon.

He eventually was found hiding in a small camping trailer. After a brief standoff, he was arrested and taken to the Laclede County Jail pending his return to Wright County. Richardson did receive a second degree charge for a terroristic threat and two felony charges for tampering with a judicial official.

“Richardson threatened to kill public officials and their families,” said U.S. Marshal Mark James of the Western District of Missouri. “His reckless behavior threatened to tear the fabric of our criminal justice system. If you act in this lawless away, the U.S. Marshals will find you and bring you to justice.”

According to a probable cause statement submitted by Wright County Sheriff Sonny Byerley, Richardson reportedly called the Wright County Circuit Court Clerk a first time around 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 4. He claimed he had been assaulted by law enforcement and left a verbal threat that included an expletive word and the phrase, “one shot, one kill.”

This led to the sheriff’s office assigning an armed deputy to guard the judge and the Wright County Courthouse being put on high alert as an extra deputy was used to guard entrances to the location.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) was also alerted of the situation and they assigned units for protection and extra patrol.

Around 32 minutes later, Richardson called again to the Circuit Court Clerk’s office and it was reported he sounded intoxicated on the call.

It was then he threatened to hurt the families of the public officials involved.

Sheriff Byerley called Richardson around seven hours later to encourage him to turn himself in.

While making accusations that he was shot by local law enforcement, he later admitted to Sheriff Byerley that he was not in “his right mind.”

It was noted that Richardson had outstanding warrants for his arrest. Richardson reportedly told Sheriff Byerley on the phone, “I will not be taken alive.” He also reportedly said that he would kill anyone who tries to take him to jail.

The Laclede County Sheriff’s Office later noted that Richardson had charges pending in their precinct for entering a residence, striking a person with a curtain rod and demanding a shotgun. The Wright County Sheriff’s Office reminds the public that all suspects are assumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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