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Charges filed against Birch Tree man accused of firing at neighbors near school


A Birch Tree resident who allegedly threatened a neighbor’s life and fired several rounds in a residential area while intoxicated has been charged with three felonies. The incident reportedly also happened within 200 yards of the Birch Tree Elementary school, but classes weren't in session due to Thanksgiving break.

A warrant for Robert E. Vermillion, 41, was issued Friday in Shannon County, on charges of unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon by exhibiting it, and first-degree harassment.

Shannon County Deputy Rex Churchill, in a probable cause statement submitted to prosecutors, said he was notified of shots fired and went to a home in Birch Tree where he spoke with Vermillion.

Vermillion reportedly told the deputy his neighbor had been screaming and cursing at him, he would shoot his neighbor if he kept it up, and that "the neighbor's old lady was the love of his life."

Churchill said he noticed the strong odor of an intoxicant emanating from Vermillion's breath and asked him if he had been drinking. Vermillion reportedly said he had been drinking, but not while shooting his gun.

The victims also told Churchill that Vermillion had been threatening to shoot the other man, and after the deputy left the scene, he got a second call that the suspect was threatening to shoot the neighbor. In a written statement submitted to the sheriff's department the victim said Vermillion was "infatuated" with his girlfriend and had been harassing the two of them and making threats from his balcony for months.

That day, the victim said, Vermillion began shooting in the general direction of the school and the neighbor told him to stop because "rounds were flying all over the place," and he said Vermillion became "belligerent and hostile" before making threats to shoot the neighbor and calling the police himself, claiming he could do whatever he wanted on his own property.

The neighbor said about five minutes after law enforcement left, Vermillion became hostile again, and the victim and his girlfriend both recorded evidence of the threat to the neighbor's life, Churchill reported.

In his statement, Churchill noted Vermillion's criminal history of convictions of driving while intoxicated and possession of marijuana and paraphernalia prior to the legalization of adult recreational marijuana use, showing a history of drug and alcohol intoxication. None of the convictions were felonies, and in filing the current charge of unlawful possession of a firearm, Shannon County Prosecutor William Seay noted it was because Vermillion possessed the firearm, a rifle, while he was intoxicated and is habitually intoxicated with a related criminal history.

The remaining charges were filed because the suspect displayed the rifle in a threatening manner and because he had harassed the two victims by screaming and cursing at them and threatening to shoot them, causing emotional distress, according to the prosecutor’s filings in public court records.

Court records also show a warrant with a $50,000 bond was issued for Vermillion on Friday and conditions of release are that must be monitored electronically, refrain from drug and alcohol use, not possess firearms, and have no contact with the victims.

According to the records, Vermillion was arrested on the warrant on Saturday afternoon, and posted bond the same day; he is scheduled to make an initial court appearance Dec. 19 before Associate 37th Circuit Judge Sandra Brewer in Shannon County.