POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - Twin men from Poplar Bluff, Missouri were arrested with thousands of rounds of ammunition and allegedly planned to kill multiple people.
“There’s no doubt in my mind people would have died. It was a situation where we definitely avoided a big catastrophe,” said Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs.
Benjamin Tyler Price and Joseph Michael Price, 32, are in federal custody on gun charges.
“The two of them were getting ready to have a birthday two days afterwards, so I have to wonder ya know if they had some kind of plan there,” said Sheriff Dobbs.
According to court documents, on December 5, around 7 a.m., the Butler County Sheriff’s Office received a report that Benjamin and Joseph Price were missing and the caller was concerned about their welfare.
The men were reportedly at a Minit-Mart convenience store in Poplar Bluff.
According to court documents, in May 2013, a Judgement of Incapacity was issued by the Ripley County Circuit Court that found Benjamin and Joseph Price were “totally incapacitated by reason of respondent’s mental condition and is unable to care for self.” According to federal regulations, persons who have been adjudicated as mentally incapacitated are prohibited from having guns and/or ammunition.
Assistant U.S. Attorney, Keith Sorrell said the Price brothers are prohibited from having firearms based on the court’s finding that they are classified as mentally defective.
“That term, while it sounds harsh, actually has an exact meaning, and it’s a person who has been adjudicated as someone who cannot take care of his own affairs. And so a person who has been the subject of a guardianship petition, for example, as we have in this case is banned from possessing a firearm,” said Sorrell.
On Dec. 3, 2018, an application was filed with the Butler County Circuit Court alleging “acute psychosis” and that they could be “dangers to themselves and others.” It was approved by the court for a 96-hour detention for evaluation and treatment.
According to the court documents, officers arrived at the Minit-Mart and found a GMC truck with Benjamin Price standing next to it. They placed him in handcuffs.
When he was searched, court documents state Benjamin Price had numerous pistol magazines on his person, all of which were loaded with pistol ammunition. Officers say they also found a black ski mask in one of his pockets.
While taking the magazines from him, Benjamin Price allegedly told officers that he also had a shotgun, pistol and other ammunition inside the truck. He allegedly told them that the “military was after them” and that there was a hit out on his life and he armed himself for protection.
Officers say Benjamin Price told them Joseph Price was inside the Minit-Mart store.
Officers searched the truck and say they found a Maverick, 12-gauge shotgun inside. They say they also found a Hi-Point, .40 caliber pistol.
When officers went inside the store to find Joseph Price, they say employees told them he was in the restroom. When they went inside, officers say they found Joseph Price inside and a pistol in the water tank of the toilet. Officers handcuffed him.
According to court documents, the pistol was a Hi-Point, 9mm caliber pistol.
With the Price brothers' permission, officers searched the truck and said they found 1,000 rounds of Remington brand, .40 and 9mm caliber pistol ammunition in the truck and on both men, along with 110 rounds of Selleir and Bellot shotgun ammunition, mace, knives, masks, a flashlight and other items.
According to officers, the shotgun ammunition was “00” buckshot, which they say is a particularly lethal round because each round contains 12 pellets of .22 caliber-size projectiles.
Officers say these rounds are designed to disperse when fired, creating a pattern of projectiles.
“It is a strange case. It’s unusual. I’ve been here 17 years. I’ve never seen anything close to it,” said Asst. U.S. Attorney Sorrell.
Court documents state all three guns and the ammunition found were manufactured in states other than Missouri.
Both Benjamin and Joseph Price were taken to a psychiatric hospital where they were examined.
Both men allegedly told doctors that they were planning to kill multiple people.
But, despite the potential danger the Prices posed back on December 5, workers at the Minit-Mart store called them regulars, always friendly and polite.
“The impression that I get from the two of them was they were cordial, they were nice, they even thanked us for our service and what not. But, I also understand that their mentality, and that they can be very dangerous people," said Sheriff Dobbs.
Asst. U.S. Attorney Keith Sorrell said they are investigating how the Price brothers got their hands on so many weapons.
They remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service.