A man found dead following an exchange of gunfire with Jasper County deputies Thursday afternoon has been identified as Kenneth T. Ashburn, 28, of Bella Vista, Arkansas.
Deputy Justin Henry, a seven-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, was shot in the leg during the exchange of gunfire with Ashburn shortly before 5 p.m. at 5206 E. Gerbitz Road, about a mile east of the Missouri Southern State University campus in Joplin. He was reported to be in stable condition at a local hospital Thursday night, and was discharged from the hospital later that night, according to a statement from the office.
Henry and three other deputies were responding to a call reporting a stolen vehicle at the address when they came under fire from a man in an outbuilding and Henry was shot in his right calf. The deputies returned fire and retreated back down the driveway of the property.
The Joplin Police Department special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team was called to the scene and approached the shed, where they found Ashburn deceased inside.
The sheriff’s office said in a news release again today that it remains unknown at this time if Ashburn was killed by the return fire of the deputies or if he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. An autopsy is scheduled for early next week as part of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s investigation of the officers-involved shooting.
According to Sheriff Randee Kaiser, there was an outstanding felony warrant for aggravated assault that had been issued on Ashburn in Cherokee County, Kansas.