Rolla Police Department (RPD) is seeking the public's help with an investigation into a shooting that sent a female victim to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head. Two men have been arrested.

Rolla Police Department (RPD) is seeking the public's help with an investigation into a shooting that sent a female victim to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head.

On Wednesday, July 19, at approximately 4:03 p.m., Rolla Police Department (RPD) officers responded to the Phelps County Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department to investigate a 21 year-old female, who had been transported to the hospital by private vehicle with a single gunshot wound.

According to the probable cause statement,“When the first RPD officers arrived on the scene, they located a tan colored Ford Taurus parked in the ER parking lot that had the driver and passenger side windows broken out and several bullet holes in the exterior of the vehicle. Officers also contacted the two people who had reportedly driven the victim to the hospital.”

These witnesses were a woman, age 37 and a man, age 22, both of Rolla.
The statement said “the officers then located the gunshot victim in the ER, a white female, age 21 of Rolla. She had sustained a single gunshot wound to the left temporal area. The victim was immediately airlifted to the University of Missouri Medical Center in Columbia.”

Initially it was reported that the shooting may have occurred in the parking lot of the Acorn Trail, near Highway O and Sycamore Drive, however it was later revealed that the shooting actually occurred on Highway 72 near Osage Drive.
The probable cause statement tells how the two witnesses story about a chance meeting with the injured victim began to unravel.

“During the initial investigation, officers interviewed the witnesses, and during those interviews, it was reported that they both had been walking in the area of the Acorn Trail near Highway 0 when they observed the victim’s vehicle in the parking lot of the Acorn Trail off of Hwy. 0 with the windows broken out of it and the victim sitting in the driver's seat with blood all over her. The witnesses reported that they moved the victim to the passenger seat of the vehicle and they drove her to the hospital. As the interviews continued, the witnesses statements began to contradict each other, so they were detained for questioning in this incident.”

As a result of the follow-up investigation conducted by the Rolla Police Department’s Division of Criminal Investigations Unit, it was revealed that the shooting occurred after an illegal narcotics transaction had gone bad.

According to the court documents, it was learned from additional interviews with the witnesses, that “the male witness had the victim drive him to the Phillips 66 station at Highway 72 and Highway 0 in order to conduct a drug transaction. When they arrived to complete the transaction they met up with an individual identified as Joseph Vance, age 37, of Rolla, and an unidentified white male, both of which were occupying a dark blue-colored Ford 2500 pick-up truck.”

The statement said there was a disagreement after the exchange of the money and drugs and “the victim and the male witness fled the scene onto eastbound Hwy.72 with Vance and the other subject chasing them in the dark blue pick-up truck.”
The victim drove east on Hwy. 72 and in the vicinity of Osage Drive, performed a u-turn, and started traveling westbound on Hwy. 72. When they were driving by the blue pick up in the opposite direction, the probable cause statement said “the driver of the pick-up fired several rounds from a handgun into the victim’s vehicle during which time the victim was struck in the head with a bullet. The victim and the male witness were able to elude Joseph Vance and the other individual in the dark blue pick-up truck and she was subsequently taken to the hospital.”

On Wednesday, July 19, Joseph Vance was located near his residence in Rolla and taken into custody. Under interrogation, after being advised of his constitutional rights, the probable cause statement said, “Vance told us that he was riding in a dark blue-colored Ford pick-up truck that was owned by Steven Debord, and that Debord was the driver of the vehicle. Vance confirmed that a disagreement occurred during the drug transaction and that the victim and the witness fled the scene in their vehicle. Vance admitted that he and Debord chased after the victim and the witness, and during the chase, Debord fired several rounds from a large handgun at the victim’s vehicle.”

On Thursday, July 20, Steven Debord was located at his residence located at 504 N. Louise Street in St. James, and taken into custody. Under interrogation, after being advised of his constitutional rights the court documents state “Debord admitted to investigators that he did engage in a drug transaction in Rolla earlier in the day and he admitted to chasing after someone and shooting several rounds from his revolver at their vehicle.”

Debord’s pickup truck and the revolver were recovered from his residence without incident.

Arrested in connection with this violent crime was Steven T. Debord, age 43 of St. James, and Joseph L. Vance, age 37 of Rolla. Both were arrested on the charges of assault in the first degree, armed criminal action, and distribution of a controlled substance. Both subjects were incarcerated in the Phelps County Jail on a 24 hour hold pending the issuance of warrants.

At noon today, RDP Chief Sean Fagan said that warrants would be issued today to hold Debord and Vance until they could have a hearing.
“This was an isolated incident,” said the Chief. “This was not just a random shooting—this was a drug deal gone bad.”

This incident is still under investigation. Anyone having any information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact Detective Sergeant Hank Harper at the Rolla Police Department’s Division of Criminal Investigations Unit at (573) 308-1213, or you can remain anonymous by calling the Rolla Police Department’s Confidential Tip Line at (573) 364-0111.

The Rolla Police Department would like to thank the St. James Police Department and Columbia Police Department for their assistance in this investigation.
The charges for which Steven T. Debord and Joseph L. Vance have been charged with are mere accusations. Evidence in support of these charges must be presented to a court of competent jurisdiction whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.