Carthage Police Department investigating homicide at Quality Inn motel; suspect still at large

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Carthage police say they’re looking for an area man in connection with a shooting at the Quality Inn on Hazel Street that left a 42-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman hospitalized in stable condition.

As of 2 p.m. on Saturday, the suspect, Lane J. Stephens, 29, was still on the loose and considered armed and dangerous by Carthage police.

He was last seen fleeing the O’Reilly’s Auto Parts parking lot, located at 1937 S. Garrison Ave., in a stolen 2009 Hyundai Sante Fe.

Carthage Police Department Public Information Officer Chad Dininger said the original call came in at 10:56 a.m. Saturday about a shooting at the Quality Inn, 2701 Hazel Ave.

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The suspect is Lane J Stephens a 29 yr old white male of the Carthage area.

“Officers arrived on scene and located two victims inside one of the rooms in the hotel,” Dininger said. “They rendered first aid, and EMS arrived and also rendered first aid. One subject was pronounced deceased inside the hotel, a male, he was 42 years of age. Officers also located a female victim, 30 years old, who suffered a gunshot wound in the room. She was transported to an area hospital and was in stable condition this morning. We’re not releasing their names while we contact next of kin.”

Dininger said a woman told officers the suspect approached her with a firearm and stole her black Dodge Ram pickup from the rear of the motel.

The pickup left traveling north on Hazel Street.

Then at 11:45 a.m., another 911 call was received reporting a carjacking at the O’Reilly’s parking lot.

The suspect was last seen fleeing in this White 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe with Missouri license plate of 2KBH01.

“The victim there stated that a male approached her at knifepoint and stole her vehicle,” Dininger said. “The suspect then fled in that vehicle and is suspected of being armed and dangerous.”

Officers recovered the stolen black pickup at the O’Reilly’s store.

Dininger said investigators believe the suspect in both carjackings is the same person they’re searching for in relation to the shooting.

Neither carjacking victims were injured, although the victim in the O’Reilly’s carjacking was struck by the door of the vehicle as the suspect fled.

Rumors spread on social media throughout Carthage about an active shooter at stores near the Quality Inn, but Dininger said officers have no reason to believe those were anything other than rumors.

“Initially, when this first came out we received information that there was an active shooter at Lowe’s Home Improvement store,” Dininger said. “We believe the shooting was isolated to the Quality Inn and then we have the carjackings. We don’t believe this was an active shooter as people were describing.”

Dininger said Jasper County Sheriff’s Deputies and Missouri State Highway Patrol officers are assisting in the search for the suspect.

Dininger said investigators were still trying to determine a motive for the shooting and if there was any relationship between the suspected shooter and the victims.

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