There were several tense hours in the Purdy area yesterday as Barry County Sheriff's deputies and the Missouri State Highway Patrol SWAT team attempted to apprehend a drug suspect yesterday. The suspect, Jeff White, escaped and is continuing to be sought by authorities.
White has three felony warrants for failure to appear in Barry County Circuit Court on drug charges. He was arrested by Marionville authorities three weeks ago for possession of methamphetamines. Deputy Carl Cosper went to White's residence a short distance southwest of Purdy yesterday to serve an arrest warrant.
Sheriff Mick Epperly said White came to the door and displayed a gun. The suspect threatened to shoot himself and any officers who attempted to take him into custody.
"He threatened a 'bloodbath,'" Epperly said.
Cosper stayed at the scene and called for backup. Facing some staffing shortages, Epperly called in the Highway Patrol's SWAT team, relying on its training and heavy equipment. A hostage situation might also have been part of the equation.
Patrol officers gathered at the Country Corner store in Purdy then moved on scene. The armored truck used by the Patrol drove up to the house and a rescue phone was tossed in a window in an attempt to establish communication.
"Deputy Cosper was on the south side of the residence, where there was a door," Epperly said. "There was another door on the east side of the house. Apparently at some point White and possibly a second person snuck out unseen and escaped."
White remains at large and is considered dangerous. Epperly said he believes the suspect is considered to have a weapon at all times.
"We try to protect the public and keep people from going down any intersections in the scene. We don't want anyone in harm's way," Epperly said. "I want to thank the people who helped us. The Barry-Lawrence Ambulance staged in the vicinity for hours. It was a long afternoon in the heat."