Timothy A. Garrison, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Boonville, Mo., woman who fired at law enforcement officers and other motorists during a high-speed pursuit pleaded guilty in federal court.
Victoria Ann Buol, 25, of Boonville, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Willie J. Epps, Jr., to the charges contained in an April 21, 2016, federal indictment.
Co-defendant Russell Dean Moore, Jr., 27, of Fulton, Mo., pleaded guilty to the same charges on Dec. 18, 2017.
Buol and Moore each pleaded guilty to three criminal violations that occurred during a high-speed pursuit on Interstate 70 by law enforcement officers, in which each of them fired shots at both the officers and at semi-trailer trucks in an effort to block the pursuit. Buol and Moore each pleaded guilty to one count of the destruction of a motor vehicle (a USF Holland, Inc., semi-tractor trailer), one count of the use of a firearm in furtherance of that crime, and one count of the use of a firearm in furtherance of the destruction of another motor vehicle (a DCE Transportation, Inc., semi-tractor trailer).
According to the plea agreement, Boone County Sheriffâ€™s deputies were dispatched to a Columbia, Mo., residence on the afternoon of April 6, 2016, for a stolen vehicle complaint. A woman told deputies that her 2007 Jeep, as well as firearms and other items, had been stolen from her residence. Among the items stolen was a Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatic pistol.
At 2:44 a.m. the following morning, a sergeant with the Boone County Sheriffâ€™s Department spotted the stolen Jeep in the parking lot of Midway Travel Center, 6401 E. Hwy. 40, Columbia. The sergeant drove over to the Jeep, which appeared to be unoccupied, got out of his vehicle and walked toward the Jeep. As he did so, Buol appeared in the front passenger seat. She moved to the driverâ€™s seat and drove away, stopping in the parking lot to allow Moore to get in the front passenger seat.
The sergeant pursued the Jeep with his emergency lights active. The Jeep turned onto Highway 40 and, as it was crossing Interstate 70, Moore shot at the sergeant multiple times. The Jeep turned onto Highway UU and stopped at the intersection of Sugar Creek Road. The sergeant saw Moore exit the Jeep and started shooting at him. Moore got back into the Jeep and the pursuit continued.
After the sergeantâ€™s patrol vehicle was struck by at least one bullet, disabling it, other officers continued the pursuit of the stolen Jeep into the southern part of Columbia. The chase eventually moved onto Interstate 70 East, where officers continued to pursue the stolen Jeep into Callaway County. Throughout the pursuit, multiple shots were fired from the Jeep at various officers. Shots were also fired from the Jeep at four semi-trailer trucks traveling on Interstate 70, nearly striking one of the drivers.
The Jeep ran out of gas on County Road 172 in Callaway County and Buol and Moore were arrested. Both Buol and Moore later admitted they drove the Jeep at different times during the pursuit.
Both Buol and Moore admitted firing the pistol at officers and semi-trailer trucks from the stolen Jeep. They told investigators that their intent when shooting at semi-trailer trucks on Interstate 70 East was to cause a serious accident, which would terminate the officersâ€™ pursuit and aid in their escape. Two tractor trailers were shot during the pursuit. One of the drivers stopped his vehicle and discovered that his cab was damaged, and there was a 9mm bullet lodged behind the driverâ€™s seat. Another driver told investigators he heard a pop and his truck engine began smoking and overheated. He pulled into a rest stop and called his employer. There was a hole in his tractor grill and the radiator, air cooler, and condenser were damaged.
Under federal statutes, Buol is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 35 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.
Under the terms of Mooreâ€™s plea agreement, the government and Moore agree to recommend to the court a sentence of 40 years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.