One man is in jail after shots were fired late Wednesday night, Oct. 25, outside the Doublebee's Exxon station at the Highway 65 and 65B intersection in Clinton. The initial call for Clinton police came after a man fired a gun into the air while driving away from the Exxon Wednesday night.
The incident began, police were told by witnesses, when a man was offended by a group sitting at a table inside the store, talking. In his offense the man was staring at the group both while inside the store, then later from outside the store, staring at the group through the window. The man apparently thought the group at the table had stared at his girlfriend as she walked past them, asking the group if they “liked what they saw,” per the police report.
He and the woman he was with, apparently his girlfriend, got into a red Nissan and drove off, the girlfriend at the wheel. As they did so the man looked back at a member of the group at the table who had come outside briefly to his pickup, and held up a pistol, cocking it as he did so.
The man who saw the gun went back inside the store, rejoining his friends, when they heard a series of gunshots. They looked and saw the gun was being fired into the air from the red Nissan as it left the store, which then left the area going north on 65. Several witnesses corroborated the story to police, including a description of the man wielding the gun of being about 25-30 years old, wearing a gray sweatshirt with a teardrop tattoo under one eye. Several people heard the man ask the group at the table if they “liked what they saw” after his girlfriend walked past.
Police were able to view store security footage, confirming the man's transit through the store and the young lady in his company. Officer went outside and searched, finding three shell casings on the road just outside the store's driveway.
Two days later Clinton police, already alerted by Fairfield Bay police about a man wanted on a warrant, received a tip about three men in Fairfield Bay may have been involved in the Wednesday night incident, including the car they were travelling in: a Mustang convertible. An officer on patrol near Burnt Ridge Road soon spotted the Mustang convertible on Highway 16E, driving toward Clinton. He followed.
As the officer followed he only saw two men in the car, both of whom were “acting nervous” per the report, checking the rear view mirrors and at times looking over their shoulder at the trailing police car. As the officer watched a third man appeared, briefly, sitting up in the back seat, looking behind at the police car, and laid back down again.
The officer reported recognizing the third man, having seen his picture that morning as someone police were looking for, the man having an active warrant and being a “person of interest” at the Wednesday night incident at the Exxon station.
As the officer followed the car drove onto 65, then 65B, where the officer pulled it over, both stopping at the entrance to the Best Western motel. The officer got the names from all three men in the car, including the back seat passenger, calling them in. The name the back seat passenger gave (he did not, he told the officer, have any ID) belonged to a known gang member and police were told to use caution. Other officers arrived to assist, including Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies. The three were taken from the car and the “known gang member” was put in handcuffs.
As the investigation continued officers learned the man currently in handcuffs was actually Matthew Simpson, 28, of Fairfield Bay, who Fairfield Bay police had been looking for in order to serve a warrant. He had given a false name to the officer initially, apparently and unwittingly using the name of a known gang member. He was arrested.
In an interview with officer Simpson admitted, per the police report, that he had fired the gun that Wednesday night, that he was trying to “act big.” Shorly afterward the interview ended when Simpson requested a lawyer.
Simpson is currently listed as being held in the county jail, charges including discharging a gun from a car, a Class B felony, as well as being in possession of a gun while under a protection order (the protection order from California) and obstruction of governmental investigation after giving a false name, the latter two being misdemeanor charges.