A man accused of committing a robbery at gunpoint and firing at least one shot in the parking lot of the Ozark Walmart store made his first court appearance Aug. 12.
Joseph Lee Steinert appeared before Christian County Associate Circuit Judge Doug Bacon dressed in the navy blue uniform of a Christian County Jail inmate, his hands in cuffs. Steinert had a bond hearing scheduled for Aug. 20 and declared his intent to apply for a public defender to represent him.
According to the Ozark Police Department, officers responded to the store at 10:31 a.m. on Aug. 8, to the “report of an armed robbery with shots fired.” A person of interest reportedly fled the scene in a white Chevrolet Traverse that was reported stolen. No one was injured.
Steinert, 36, was arrested by Springfield police at 12:28 p.m. and held in the Greene County Jail. Steinert was then transferred to the Christian County Jail Aug. 9. Steinert is charged with class A felony first-degree robbery, class D felony unlawful possession of a firearm, felony armed criminal action and misdemeanor fourth-degree assault.
Steinert has a criminal history that includes felony theft and stealing convictions in Greene County in 2015, in which the court deemed him to be a persistent offender. Steinert was also found guilty of three class C felony theft charges in Christian County in 2014.
The incident at the Ozark Walmart occurred on the same day that a man sparked panic at a south Springfield Walmart store by walking in carrying a loaded rifle. Dmitriy N. Andreychenko, 20, was arrested and charged with making a terrorist threat. Police determined that the Ozark incident and the Springfield incident were in no way linked to each other.
Steinert allegedly threatened someone he knew at the Ozark store.
“This was determined to be an isolated incident involving parties known to one another,” Ozark Police Chief Justin Arnold said in a press release.
At approximately 12:02 p.m., the Ozark Police Department made a social media post to Facebook which stated that police officers were currently on the scene of the Walmart store at 2004 West Marler Lane, “for a report of an armed robbery with shots being fired in the parking lot.” The post said that the incident was under investigation.
By 12:25 p.m., about the time Steinert was arrested in Springfield, there were no signs of police officers in the parking lot or inside the Ozark store. Shoppers and store employees were going about their days as usual.