Two men died in separate shootings in Scott and Mississippi Counties early Sunday morning, and officials believe the two incidents are related.
Jemorrio A. Betts, 20, of Charleston died around 1 a.m. at the Missouri Delta Medical Center in Sikeston after receiving a gunshot wound in his right side. Chance Kitchen, 25, of Charleston was pronounced dead at 4:15 a.m. at the hospital, also as the result of a gunshot wound.
According to Capt. Jerry Bledsoe of the Scott County Sheriff's Department, the department received a call at 12:39 a.m. Sunday from an employee at Mr. C's nightclub at the intersection of Route Z and U.S. 61 between Morley and Sikeston.
The employee reported that Betts came in and collapsed on the floor in the doorway of the business. The sheriff's department and Emergency Medical Service responded to the call as well as the Major Case Squad consisting of the Sikeston Department of Public Safety, New Madrid County Sheriff's Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
During preliminary stages of the investigation, Bledsoe said officers developed a suspect, Brandon C. Johnson, 23, of 706 Cleveland St., Charleston, who was arrested within a couple of hours of the incident and charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. He is being held without bond allowed at the Scott County Jail in Benton.
A .22-caliber revolver was located about 300 feet south of the entrance of Mr. C's on the shoulder of U.S. 61. It is believed to be the murder weapon, said Bledsoe. However, conclusions will not be official until results from the crime lab are received.
According to Mississippi County Coroner Terry A. Parker, around 3:30 a.m. Sunday Kitchen was inside his home, located on Elm Street in Charleston, and evidently came to answer the front door when someone shot him.
Shell casings from a gun were found at the scene.
"At this point, it appears they are related," Bledsoe noted. "As far as why that one (in Charleston) happened, retaliation is certainly a possibility."
At press time, no suspect had been arrested for the shooting of Kitchen.
Autopsies on Betts and Kitchen are scheduled today at the Mineral Area Medical Center in Farmington.
Sikeston DPS incident reports say large gatherings and other disturbances were reported in the area during the same time frame of the shootings and may or may not be related to the Sunday's incidents.
Investigation of the Scott County shooting continues under the Major Case Squad while the investigation of the Mississippi County shooting continues by the Charleston Department of Public Safety.