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View All Articles | June 14, 2024

Repairs underway for CPD’s armored vehicle following standoff in Sturgeon where gunfire was exchanged

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Repairs are underway for the Columbia Police Department’s armored vehicle that was damaged during a lengthy standoff in Sturgeon on Tuesday.

Columbia’s BearCat was one of two armored vehicles that received significant damage during the exchange of gunfire, according to Capt. Brian Leer of the Boone County Sheriff’s Office. The second damaged vehicle was from the Callaway County Sheriff’s Office, Leer said.

The BearCat is an armored personal carrier that is designed to provide officers protection from gunfire. The BearCat is designed as a defensive rescue vehicle.  While some people have compared it to a tank, CPD Assistant Chief Lance Bolinger said it is closer to a Brinks truck, an armored vehicle known for bringing money to banks.

At full capacity, the BearCat can seat up to 12 people. It is also equipped with a radio and megaphone.

After inspecting the BearCat on Wednesday morning, CPD estimates that the vehicle took 15-20 rounds during the standoff in Sturgeon. Its tires and windshield had significant damage and needed to be replaced. Some gunshots flattened tires on the vehicle and holes were left in the windshield. Luckily, bullets that hit the windshield did not go all the way through.

“If we did not have the BearCat on the scene, I believe that we would have had multiple officers killed during that incident,” Bolinger said.

Gunfire was exchanged between Damion Linder and law officers several times over a several-hour period on Tuesday afternoon. Linder was charged on Tuesday with for second-degree domestic assault, unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful possession of a weapon. He was on probation in another case. He was found dead in the residence shortly before 7 p.m. The Missouri State Highway Patrol is investigating if the fatal blow was self-inflicted or from law enforcement.

Bolinger added that he was proud of the way members of the SWAT team conducted themselves.

“The harm they put themselves in yesterday and the level of professionalism they displayed is truly moving to me,” Bolinger said.

CPD purchased the vehicle in 2013. Before, CPD used a vehicle known as a “Peace Keeper,” a 1980s Department of Defense vehicle that was loaned to them.

“That vehicle, it became unreliable. It also didn’t have the ballistics that the current BearCat has and some of the capabilities that the BearCat has,” Bolinger said. “We were taking it to scenes, it was breaking down on us and we were having to tow it back every time. So, it finally reached the point where it had ended its usable life, and that’s when we started exploring ideas to purchase that Lenco BearCat.”

Bolinger went to the City Council when the BearCat was initially purchased and said it received pushback from members of the public and about half of the council. However, he believes that the BearCat was a necessary purchase for officer safety.

“If you ask the people that were sitting behind the BearCat, if you ask the people’s family who were sitting at home when they were taking fire, they got, and again I don’t want to go into exact details, but it’s not a secret, they got probably a hundred rounds fired at them yesterday,” Bolinger said.

The initial purchase of the BearCat cost nearly $250,000. CPD used funding from forfeiture funds to help cover the cost.

Records obtained by ABC 17 show that CPD has spent $16,964.16 in repairs since March 2017. That averages to $2,609.86 a year.

“We’d like to leave it in the garage and never take it out,” Bolinger said. “But unfortunately, that’s not the reality.  I would say it probably has about 24 deployments a year, on average would be my guess.”

Of that nearly $17,000 spent on repairs, $5,708.92 came from repair damage sustained in a 2023 standoff at Forest Village. According to police, when a BearCat is damaged, the goal is to have it operational within 12 hours of the incident.

That shooting was the aforementioned Forest Village standoff, which left a bullet hole in the windshield.


Read the full article here.