Missouri man sentenced to 25 years in prison without parole for meth trafficking and discharging a firearm

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A Missouri man who shot a law enforcement officer before shooting himself was sentenced in federal court for drug trafficking and illegally discharging a firearm in Joplin, Mo.

E.F. Fitchpatrick, Jr., 47, of St. Louis, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 25 years in federal prison without parole. The court sentenced Fitchpatrick to 350 months in prison but gave him credit for the 50 months that he has already served in state custody in connection with a related offense, resulting in a sentence of 300 months (25 years) in prison. Fitchpatrick was sentenced as a career offender due to his prior felony convictions.

On June 10, 2020, Fitchpatrick pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of discharging a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime. 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 could not 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. 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.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica R. Sarff. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team, and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department.

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