Police impersonation ends with arrest

A St. Charles man threatened others with a pellet gun Saturday, while attempting to break up a noise disturbance by impersonating a police officer.

On Saturday, Columbia Police Department officers responded to a noise disturbance at 2500 Old 63, the location of The Reserve apartment complex, and found 20-year-old Jeffery Qualls, a resident of the building, impersonating a police officer and attempting to control the situation.

Capt. Stephen Monticelli of the Columbia Police Department said Qualls "decided to play police officer," against his neighbors in the same complex.

Qualls is a high school friend of MU junior Carl Smith. Smith said Qualls was in Columbia to tailgate with four or five other friends.

"He's a big jokester, and I know that the whole situation happened when he walked over (to another apartment) and acted like he was a police officer," Smith said. "It started out as pretty innocent, but he took it way too far."

Qualls had a pellet gun that he used to subdue the suspects.

He displayed a badge when he responded to the disturbance, according to a news release from the police department.

"The suspect went through the mechanics of an arrest of multiple victims by placing them on the ground and in position for an arrest," the news release stated.

Qualls held the suspects at gunpoint and then entered the apartment unlawfully, Monticelli said.

Smith said when police initially responded to the incident, he thought it would be a "slap on the wrist," but Qualls was taken to jail.

Smith attempted to visit Qualls today.

"I haven't been able to talk to Jeff since then," Smith said. "They wouldn't let us talk to him or see him. They took him to the county jail when we were at the police station trying to see him."

Qualls is being charged with multiple counts of third-degree burglary, third-degree assault, felonious restraint and impersonating a police officer, the news release stated.

"The burglary charge is from putting people at gunpoint and felonious restraint," Monticelli said.

Smith said he understood the situation was serious, but he said Qualls was not acting with the intent to harm anyone.

"He just took it way too far," Smith said. "I know it's a serious situation, and I can honestly say that if I was in the situation that these people are in, I would have probably reacted in the same way."

— Crime editor Juana Summers contributed to this report

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