A shooting that began inside a Kansas City barber shop and left an employee injured was allegedly carried out by a customer who was unhappy with his haircut.

Vernie O. Dickens, 33, was charged Friday with first-degree assault, unlawful weapon use and two counts of armed criminal action in connection with a shooting that occurred last week inside Draque’s Barber Shop at 106 W. 39th St. in Kansas City’s Hanover Place neighborhood. He is currently being held in the Jackson County jail on a $75,000 bond.

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According to court records, Kansas City police were called on June 2 to the area of 39th Street and Wyandotte Avenue on a reported disturbance involving a weapon. When officers arrived they found a man sitting on top of the suspect, identified by authorities as Dickens, in the backyard of a nearby residence.

The gunshot victim had already been taken to a hospital by private vehicle. Dickens was taken into police custody and transported to a hospital for a medical evaluation, according to charging documents.

Witnesses told police that they overheard an argument involving Dickens about the haircut he got at the shop the day prior. He was not charged for the job, witnesses said, and purportedly returned to have the cut corrected.

The barber who cut his hair the day before was not at the shop, witnesses told police. After another barber asked him to take a seat and wait, Dickens allegedly became agitated and began yelling.

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The barber threatened to call the police. That’s when Dickens allegedly pulled a gun and fired two shots at the barber, who ran for the front door and was chased down through the parking lot.

One of the witnesses, the man who held Dickens down until the police arrived, said he was inside the shop waiting on his cousin to get a haircut. After the shooting started, he told police, he retrieved a gun from his car and went around the corner to find Dickens standing over the victim while pointing a handgun at him.

The witness said he pleaded with Dickens to stop. Then there was some sort of malfunction that caused the clip to fall out, and — recognizing his chance to intervene — he rushed Dickens and got the gun away from him, the witness told police.

Five other witnesses said they saw or heard the encounter between Dickens and the victim. One reported that there were children inside, sitting near a bench by the front door, when Dickens started shooting.

The gunshot victim was interviewed by police at a hospital. He described running out the front door, hearing gunfire and attempting to jump a fence near the property when he realized he had been shot in the back. Then he laid on the ground with his hands spread out as Dickens allegedly stood over him.

The gunshot victim told investigators he believed Dickens was going to “execute” him, and was preparing to fire the gun again before the weapon malfunctioned and the customer intervened, a detective wrote in court papers.

Under Missouri law, Dickens faces up to 15 years in prison for the assault charge; 30 years for unlawful weapon use and 15 years on each count of armed criminal action. As of Wednesday, court records did not list an attorney who could speak on Dickens’ behalf.

©2022 The Kansas City Star. Visit kansascity.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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