A Litchfield man is in custody and a victim remains at St. John's Hospital in Springfield after a shooting in the neighborhood of Beckemeyer School in Hillsboro on Friday morning, Sept. 20.
David L. Chesser, 69, of Litchfield and formerly of Hillsboro, was taken into custody without incident while armed with a handgun at about 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Hillsboro Free Methodist Church. He remains in Montgomery County Jail on $1 million initial bond on a preliminary felony charge of attempted murder with the use of a firearm.
The victim, Mary A. Chesser, 68, of Hillsboro, remains in critical but stable condition at St. John's Hospital in Springfield.
At 10:53 a.m. on Friday, Hillsboro Police Chief Randy Leetham responded to a 911 dispatch of a single-vehicle accident in a residential yard at the intersection of Fairground Avenue and Seymour Avenue in Hillsboro.
Upon arrival at the scene, the police chief discovered several neighbors attempting to aid a female victim in a vehicle that had crashed into a tree. Leetham quickly determined that the victim's injuries were consistent with a shooting, not a motor vehicle accident. Family of the victim then called police to inform them that an alleged shooting occurred at the Hillsboro Free Methodist Church, approximately three blocks south of the motor vehicle accident scene. Additional officers from the Hillsboro Police Department, along with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to secure both scenes.
The victim was taken to Hillsboro Area Hospital by Hillsboro Area Ambulance Service, then transported by air to St. John's Hospital in Springfield in critical condition.
At about 11:32 a.m. while police were investigating both the alleged crime scene and the motor vehicle accident scene, the suspect returned to the Hillsboro Free Methodist Church, armed with a handgun, and attempted to enter the building. At that time, grade school students at Beckemeyer School, across the street from the motor vehicle accident scene, were about to dismiss for a regularly scheduled teachers in-service. Police requested the school go to lock-down status until the suspect was apprehended, and responded to the alleged crime scene at the church, where Chesser was taken into custody without incident.
According to Chief Leetham, Chesser said he had returned to the church to talk to the pastor. At the time of the alleged shooting, four people were in the church building: one church staff member, and three school district employees on the opposite side of the building in the pre-K area.
The investigation is ongoing.