St. Louis Man Pleads Guilty to Meth Trafficking, Discharging Firearm
Shot Officer, Himself During Standoff at Joplin Hotel
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A St. Louis, Missouri, man who shot a law enforcement officer before shooting himself pleaded guilty in federal court today to drug trafficking and illegally discharging a firearm in Joplin, Missouri.
E.F. Fitchpatrick, Jr., 46, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of discharging a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime.
By pleading guilty today, Fitchpatrick admitted that he participated in a conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine from Feb. 18 to March 1, 2017. Fitchpatrick, who had been released from federal prison a few months earlier, was traveling back and forth to Texas to pick up methamphetamine in the weeks before his arrest. He picked up nearly a pound of methamphetamine in February 2017, which he distributed to several individuals in Joplin.
On March 1, 2107, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at the Econolodge Inn and Suites at 3510 S. Rangeline Road in Joplin. After several failed attempts to open the room door with the hotel key card, officers attempted to ram the door, but were not able to get the door open. An Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team (ODET) detective used the battering ram to knock out the hotel room window. Another ODET detective reached in the window to move the curtain, and Fitchpatrick, who was standing in the bathroom doorway, shot the detective in the left side of his body before retreating to the bathroom and barricading himself inside.
Joplin police officers, utilizing a robot, were able to see that the bathroom door was closed with towels stuffed at the bottom of the door. After a couple of hours and numerous attempts and tactics, Fitchpatrick was taken into custody. Fitchpatrick had flushed the remaining drugs and shot himself in the face while barricaded inside the bathroom.
Inside the hotel room, officers found the Hi-Point .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun used in the shooting, drug paraphernalia, and items with methamphetamine residue.
Under federal statutes, Fitchpatrick is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica R. Keller. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team, and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department.
Project Safe Neighborhoods
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with federal, state, and local law enforcement to specifically identify criminals responsible for significant violent crime in the Western District of Missouri. A centerpiece of this effort is Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Safe Neighborhoods is an evidence-based program that identifies the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develops comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, Project Safe Neighborhoods focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.