As long-time residents of Texas County, all three county commissioners were stunned and amazed by the unprecedented actions of Joseph Jesse Aldridge last week in Tyrone that left eight people dead.
“Wow – what in the world?” Presiding Commissioner Fred Stenger said. “That’s what everybody is saying.”
Authorities said Aldridge, 36, shot eight people – killing seven – inside their homes in a three-mile radius on Feb. 26 before driving to Shannon County and killing himself.
“I would never have imagined something like that would happen in this area,” associate commissioner John Casey said. “Especially of this magnitude.”
Four of the deceased – Dee and Julie Aldridge and Wayne and Janell Aldridge – were Joseph Aldridge’s cousins and their spouses. Three others – Darrell Shriver, his son Carey Shriver and daughter-in-law Valirea Shriver – were from the same family.
“Going from door-to-door-to-door is certainly unique,” Stenger said. “Apparently he had his targets and knew what he was going to do, and then set out to do it.”
“It makes you think quite a bit more about locking your doors and your kids and grandkids,” Casey said. “You hear about this kind of thing pretty often, but this brings it home.”
Funeral services for the Aldridges were Thursday in Willow Springs. A public visitation for the Shrivers is Saturday at Faith Fellowship in Houston.
“Some good people got killed,” associate commissioner Linda Garrett said, “and a lot of lives were touched by this.”
Despite the incident, which drew national and international attention, Stenger said he still believes Texas County is a worthy place to call home.
“This is obviously the worst thing that’s happened here in forever, and it’s obviously unfortunate that what happened has happened,” he said, “but by and large this is the safest place I’ve ever lived –– and I’ve lived out of state and in several areas. You just don’t have the kinds of concerns here that people have in the major metropolitan areas.
“We’re very fortunate for that.”
Garrett said she wishes Aldridge had sought counseling before he snapped. Authorities said they do not have a motive.
“What bothers me a lot is it sounds like someone needed help,” she said. “We have lots of churches and lots of people willing to help. I would hope that if there is anyone else out there feeling distressed that they would ask for help.”
Stenger, a veteran of decades in law enforcement and a current part-time officer with the Mountain Grove Police Department, said the response to Tyrone by multiple agencies made a grizzly situation easier to get through.
“I think we have a great and dedicated law enforcement set up here in this county,” he said. “The cooperation between the departments is unbelievable. The way they all came in and worked to leave no stone unturned was wonderful.
“Fortunately, the woman (Martha Shriver) who was wounded was able to identify the shooter, so by the time the investigation started, they already knew who they were looking for – which is unheard of.”
Stenger said he hopes last week’s tragedy doesn’t leave permanent scars on the entire area.
“I really hope it doesn’t tarnish the way of life we have here,” he said. “There are so many positive things this particular area has to offer.”
“It’s a bad situation, and we may never know what set him off,” Garrett said. “But this may never happen again.”
“But this shows that anything can happen anywhere at any time,” Casey said.
By and large this is the safest place I’ve ever lived – and I’ve lived out of state and in several areas. You just don’t have the kinds of concerns here that people have in the major metropolitan areas. We’re very fortunate for that.”