The man implicated in Monday’s killings of three people in Dent County is facing a flock of charges as he recovers in a Columbia hospital from two bullet wounds. Dent County prosecutor Jim Gray has filed a variety of charges against 53-year-old Earl Mitchell Forrest II of Salem. Gray says Forrest had taken a box of methamphetamine from the house where two people were killed to his house when a gun battle with police officers broke out. In the gunfight, a Dent County deputy sheriff was killed. Gray says he’s still trying to learn what got Forrest started. Gray says one of those killed, Michael Wells, appears to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Wells happened to have been in the home of Harriett Smith when Forrest confronted her. Gray will decide in a few weeks if he’ll ask for the death penalty against Forrest. Forrest is hospitalized with bullet wounds to his leg and jaw. The charges filed by Gray include three charges of murder, a charge of assault of a law enforcement officer, four counts of armed criminal action and one count of possession of a controlled substance. Gray charges Forrest shot and killed 51-year-old Harriett Smith of Salem and 41-year-old Michael Wells of Licking Monday morning with a 22-caliber handgun. He further charges that Forrest shot and fatally wounded Dent County Deputy Joann Barnes and shot and wounded Sheriff Bob Wofford when the pair attempted to confront him as a suspect in the deaths of Smith and Wells. Barnes, 48, died at approximately 4am Tuesday at a St. Louis area hospital. Wofford was treated and released at a local hospital. Forrest was wounded in the gunfight and has been taken to University Hospital in Columbia for treatment. A companion of Forrest, 21-year-old Angelina Gamblin of Salem, was also wounded and has been taken to a St. Louis area hospital for treatment. The State Highway Patrol reports Sheriff Wofford and Barnes went to Forrest’s house as part of the investigation into the deaths of Smith and Wells. The patrol says Forrest opened fire on the two as they approached the house. A stand off with law enforcement lasted for about 35 minutes before Forrest, who was wounded, came out of the house and surrendered. Initially taken to Salem Hospital, Forrest was later transferred to University Hospital.
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