43-year-old Scott Beary, a father of four from Missouri who just buried his newborn daughter, was shot and killed during an argument over a dog’s weight.
The shooting took place at Show-Me’s restaurant in Florissant, MO.
The 54-year-old male suspect was detained and later released from custody while prosecutors determine whether to file criminal charges.
Beary and a co-worker had stopped at the restaurant for lunch after finishing their construction shift, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
At some point, a conversation with other patrons inside the restaurant escalated.
It all began harmlessly enough.
“It was all playful; like you’d expect to go to a place and have a nice lunch,” witness Carl Leavy told Fox 2.
Beary was chatting with his co-worker along with two other men at the bar, including the man who would later kill him.
Beary even exchanged numbers with his killer, with the suspect saying he would use Beary’s construction services, Leavy tells the Post-Dispatch.
The conversation turned to the size of a German shepherd owned by the gunman’s friend, who claimed the dog was 290 pounds.
Beary allegedly made a comment about his own weight being 325 pounds and he couldn’t imagine a dog that size.
The dog owner soon left, along with the gunman.
The gunman returned a few minutes later and Leavy says he appeared agitated and “didn’t seem the same,” he told the Post-Dispatch.
Seeing a potential conflict arising, the bartender tried to get the gunman to leave and gave him his bar tab. At this point nobody knew the man was armed.
Leavy told the outlet that Beary was leaving at the same time as the suspect and as he left he put his hand on the gunman’s shoulder and said “no hard feelings.”
As Beary was walking out the door, the gunman allegedly called him a “fat (expletive)”, according to Leavy.
Beary turned around and confronted the gunman, asked him why he would made that comment and then punched the suspect in the head, knocking him into bar stools, Leavy claims.
Seconds later, multiple gunshots were heard.
Beary was shot multiple times in the torso and another man, Ryan Jacobsmeyer, 37, was shot in an extremity, police say.
After the shooting, the bartender separated them and took the gun away from the suspect while others went to try and help the gunshot victims.
Officers arrived on scene and detained the shooter.
Because the shooter has yet to be charged, police were forced to release him from custody after 24 hours due to Missouri law.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said at a news conference on Friday that he is still weighing evidence in the case and has not made a decision on charges, Fox 2 reports.
McCulloch says laws regarding stand-your-ground and self-defense could make the decision more difficult.
“We took everything under advisement so we have time to go through everything thoroughly and to check it against the various statutes that come into play on this, not just the homicide statutes but defense statutes, self defense, stand your ground, everything that plays into that, which in this situation has certainly complicated things,” McCulloch said.
Included in the prosecutor’s review are statements from about 20 witnesses and hours of surveillance video from different angles at the restaurant.
McCulloch said the shooter “may end up charged at some point and he may not.” A decision could come by the end of the week
Beary had three teenage children, ages 16, 15 and 13. Shortly before his death, his wife delivered a premature daughter, Jocelyn, who died five days before Beary was killed. The funeral for the child was Feb 2. He had recently spent months in Texas and Florida to help with hurricane cleanup, family told the Post-Dispatch.
This is a prime example of how a seemingly ‘small’ argument can escalate very quickly when dealing with the wrong person. Sometimes it’s best to just walk away.