A Beulah man is dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after an incident Thursday night in northern Texas County.
Texas County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Melissa Dunn said around 9:30 p.m., a call was received regarding a suspicious vehicle on Texas Tower Road at the end of Highway N. A deputy responded and located the vehicle – a large conversion van – about 40 minutes later, parked on the side of a forest service road.
The deputy made contact with the single occupant of the van, Steven Miller, 51, who was apparently lying on the floor between the seats. Dunn said the van was full with what appeared to be all of the Miller’s belongings.
The deputy obtained Miller’s Missouri identification and returned to his patrol car to have a computer check run on him. No active warrants were found, and the deputy returned to the van.
As he approached the passenger’s side, he heard a gunshot, and quickly went back to the patrol car to report the situation, not sure if he was being shot at since the van’s windows were all covered by curtains. Dunn and two Licking police officers (including Chief Scott Lindsey) responded to the scene, and upon opening the van’s doors determined that Miller had shot himself with a 22-caliber pistol that he was still holding.
Missouri State Highway Patrol officers and the county coroner also responded to the scene.
Dunn said Miller was likely distraught over some personal matter, as authorities who contacted his mother in St. Ann said she didn’t seem surprised.
“That’s not who you want to meet in the woods in the middle of the night,” Dunn said. “You’re out in the middle of nowhere with your back-ups at least 15 or 20 minutes away. But due to the good working relationship we have with the city departments in the area, the duty officer from Licking responded as well as the chief when he heard on the scanner at his home what was going on. They both got there just minutes before I got there, and it’s great to know that they’ll be there like that.”