Police officer, court employee killed during Missouri home eviction likely over taxes

There were reports of shots fired around an Independence residence.

March 1, 2024, 2:59 PM

A 68-year-old man has been charged with two counts of murder and one count of assault after he shot four people -- two of whom died -- during an eviction at a home in Independence, Missouri, according to Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. The shooting came as a result of a yearlong eviction process, likely due to unpaid taxes.

Four people were shot in the incident -- three officers from the Independence Police Department and one civil process server from the Jackson County Circuit Court, Justin Ewing of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said during a press conference Thursday night.

The police chief identified those killed as Independence police officer Cody Allen and court employee Drexel Mack. The other two officers who were shot are recovering from their injuries, the chief said.

Mack and another civil process server were there to complete the service of process and evict Larry Acree from the property and had been there before, officials said. Mack and those with him took multiple steps to make sure the property was secured and safe to go into, according to Baker.

They knocked and announced their presence but there was no answer or indication that anyone was there, authorities said. When the locks were removed and Mack and the others entered the front door, they were met with gunfire, Baker said.

PHOTO: Law enforcement on the scene of where two police officers were shot, Feb. 29, 2024, in Independence, Mo.
Law enforcement on the scene of where two police officers were shot, Feb. 29, 2024, in Independence, Mo.

Additional officers attempted to save Mack's life and remove him from the property but they were met with gunfire too, which resulted in Allen's death. When more responding officers arrived, they were able to shoot Acree and take him into custody, according to Baker.

Baker and her team are looking into why Acree was being evicted but she said it appears he had unpaid taxes and no longer had the legal right to the property. The process of eviction from the property began about Feb. 9, 2023.

Acree is in custody on $2 million bond and is currently in the hospital but will be transferred to the Jackson County Detention Center when he is able. Baker said there will be more charges brought against Acree.

At 1:09 p.m. local time, the first calls came in from the scene saying that a civil process server from Jackson County Circuit Court was shot at the residence, Ewing said.

Missouri State Highway Patrol is now handling the investigation and the Jackson County Circuit Judge announced that the case against Acree will not go through Jackson County, as they will recuse themselves because Mack was a court process server. A judge in another county will get the case.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson released a statement on X as the situation unfolded confirming that officers were shot and injured.

"Teresa and I are praying for the @IndepMoPolice officers involved and all who work to protect us," Parson said.

The mayor also released a statement mourning the two deaths.

"It is with profound sadness and heavy hearts that we come together to mourn the tragic loss of an Independence Officer, Cody Allen and Circuit Court process server, Drexel Mack. Today our city grieves the passing of two dedicated guardians and public servants," Independence Mayor Rory Rowland said in a statement.

ABC News' Darren Reynolds, Victoria Arancio and Matt Foster contributed to this report.