Man accused of killing Hermann officer, injuring another arraigned Wednesday

Kenneth Lee Simpson, 35, is charged with one count of first-degree murder, assault and unlawful...
Kenneth Lee Simpson, 35, is charged with one count of first-degree murder, assault and unlawful possession of a firearm, and two counts of armed criminal action.(Crawford County Sheriff)
Published: Mar. 12, 2023 at 10:08 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2023 at 3:49 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A 35-year-old man accused of killing a police officer and wounding another in Hermann, Mo. on Sunday night was arraigned and provided with a court-appointed attorney on Wednesday.

Kenneth Lee Simpson is charged with one count of first-degree murder, assault and unlawful possession of a firearm, and two counts of armed criminal action. The first-degree murder charge does qualify for the death penalty.

At the Wednesday arraignment, several members of fallen Detective Sergeant Mason Griffith’s were in attendance. A News 4 photographer noted Griffith’s wife turned her back to Simpson when he appeared virtually. Judge Ada Brehe-Krueger recused herself from the case. A new judge will be appointed. The next court date is scheduled for April 19.

The Shooting & Standoff

A standoff with a suspect in Hermann, Missouri, ended around 1:30 p.m. Monday after two officers were shot nearby the night before. A Blue alert was issued Sunday after the suspect, later identified as Simpson, fled the shooting scene, leading to an hours-long standoff.

During a press conference on Monday, police said officers responded to Casey’s General Store in Hermann to take Simpson into custody for multiple warrants from Franklin and Warren Counties. This was when police said Simpson shot both officers, resulting in the death of one. The other officer is in critical but stable condition.

Police said they learned Simpson was in a home near the scene and MSHP SWAT team and negotiators worked to establish communication with him. Just before 2 p.m. on Monday, Simpson surrendered and was transported to Crawford County Jail.

A suspect accused of firing multiple shots at police officers in Ballwin is believed to be barricaded inside a house.

A News 4 crew shot video of Simpson surrendering himself to police.

The call for two officers down at Casey’s General Store came just before 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. Officers were called to a disturbance at the store, located at 115 MO-19 in Hermann. Once on the scene, the officers were shot by Simpson, police say.

According to charging documents, surveillance showed that neither of the officers had drawn their weapons when they were shot. Investigators said Simpson told them he didn’t intend to kill anyone but himself.

MSHP later announced that one of the officers who was shot, Det. Sgt. Griffith, died at the hospital. The second officer was publicly identified by the City of Hermann as Officer Adam Sullentrup.

Authorities believe Simpson barricaded himself in a home just across the street from the Casey’s General Store. Throughout the night and early morning, officers gave verbal commands for him to come out. News 4 Reporter Alex Gaul was on scene Monday morning and saw troopers moving towards the house with flashbangs and K-9 officers.

SWAT officers administered tear gas Monday and broke through the front window of the house after giving verbal commands. Simpson then walked out of the home with his hands up and was arrested.

Earlier, around 10:50 a.m., a robot was seen being used to breach the home.

Court records show that Simpson has had a long criminal history, dating back to 2004, with several current pending cases. He has been on the run from authorities since April 2022.

Remembering Det. Sgt. Griffith

Besides working for the Hermann Police Department, Griffith was also the police chief in Rosebud. Residents there said they were devastated by the news of his death.

“It’s left a hole in our heart,” said Debbie Thorson.

Andy Scroggin is a former police officer in Bourbon and in Cuba. He said he first met Griffith as a young man when he was involved in the Bourbon Police Explorer group. Scroggin said Griffith had a heart of gold.

“He was really a public servant when it came to the job. Even with people he’d arrest he’d want to treat them like he wanted to be treated.”

The City of Hermann released a statement that read:

On Sunday evening, March 12, 2023, the Hermann, Missouri community suffered a devastating tragedy when Hermann Police Department Detective Sergeant Mason Griffith and Police Officer Adam Sullentrup were shot in the line of duty.

Detective Sergeant Mason Griffith, 34, succumbed to his injuries following the shooting. Griffith had been with the Hermann Police Department since September, 2017. Griffith was dedicated and proudly served as a public servant. In addition to his service with the Hermann Police Department, he served as Chief of Police for the Rosebud Police Department. He also worked for the Gasconade County Sherriff’s Department and, previously, the Gerald Police Department. He was a resident of Rosebud in Gasconade County and a 2007 graduate of Sullivan High School. Visitation for Hermann Sergeant Detective Mason Griffith will be held Sunday, March 19, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm, with funeral services at 2:00 pm at the Owensville High School. Burial will be in Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Rosebud.

Hermann Police Officer Adam Sullentrup, 31, sustained injuries and is in the hospital. He is under the best of care, and we continue to pray for a full recovery. Sullentrup has been with the Hermann Police Department since December. Prior to coming to Hermann, he was an officer with the New Haven, MO Police Department, where he served for five years. He has become an integral member of the HPD and the Hermann community.

A Memorial and Recovery Fund has been set up with People’s Savings Bank. Checks can be made payable to: Griffith/Sullentrup Memorial and Recovery Fund. Mail to People’s Savings Bank, PO Box 528, Hermann, MO 65041, or, drop off at any of the eleven People’s Savings Bank locations.

A visitation will be held for Det. Sgt. Griffith on Sunday at Owensville High School from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. The funeral will be held from 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. A GoFundMe page has been created to help Griffith’s family. Donations to both Griffith and Sullentrup for a memorial and recovery fund, you can donate here.