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story.lead_photo.caption Zachary Papunta

A Jefferson City man has been charged in connection with a shooting incident that occurred earlier this month.

Zachary Papunta, 20, is charged with unlawful use of a weapon and possession of a controlled substance.

The incident occurred May 3 in the 4400 block of Merry Lane, according to a Jefferson City Police Department probable cause statement.

Witnesses told police they had seen a vehicle chasing a man on foot. They also reported hearing two gunshots fired from the vehicle before the driver fled the area. Witnesses said the man being chased ran into a wooded area.

Two spent shell casings were found on Merry Lane, as well as a hooded sweater in the woods where the intended victim fled.

A man matching the description of the victim was later located walking on South Country Club Drive. He told officers he was being pursed by individuals who had fired a weapon at him.

Papunta's vehicle was later identified as the suspect vehicle using surveillance footage from a business on South Country Club Drive and from officers' prior contact with Papunta.

Papunta was contacted May 11 at his home and told officers he never was in the area of Merry Lane. When told there was video evidence showing his vehicle was in the area, Papunta claimed the subject in the hooded sweater had fired at him as he and his passenger were driving in the area and that he did not know who the man was.

A video taken from a surveillance camera on Merry Lane was reviewed by police May 13, and it reportedly showed Papunta's vehicle traveling to the dead end of Merry Lane at a high speed. An arm is also reportedly seen extending from the front passenger window and a pistol being fired multiple times in the direction of the woods where the hooded sweater was found.

Papunta was stopped May 19 at the intersection of U.S. 50 West and Dix Road driving the vehicle officers reportedly saw in the Merry Lane video.

When questioned, Papunta claimed he was not the one involved in the weapons offense and didn't feel it was necessary to tell officers it was his passenger who had fired the weapon during his first interview with them.

Officers showed Papunta the Merry Lane video, and he confirmed his vehicle was shown in the video.

As he was being booked into the Cole County Jail, jail staff found he was in possession of marijuana he had concealed in a napkin.

Authorities claim Papunta has been linked to five recent weapons offenses at or near his home in the 300 block of East Dunklin Street.

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