By Allen Edmonds
A 39-year-old Kansas City man is being held in the Cass County Jail on $25,000 bail following a Monday assault at the Northern Resource Center of the Cass County Public Library in Belton’s North Cass Center.
Jerry Lee Yarber is charged with first-degree robbery and second-degree assault in connection with the incident, which began when he called police claiming that someone had stolen his Social Security card.
Prior to officers’ arrival, Belton Police dispatch received a call from a library staffer reporting that a man had just assaulted multiple people before leaving the area.
Upon their arrival at the library, officers found a 78-year-old woman sitting on the ground inside the library with a staff member sitting in a chair with her.
She told officers she had been shoved to the ground by the suspect and was unable to get up. She said she had been browsing the library when the suspect accused her of stealing his Social Security card, then shoved her to the ground.
She told officers he then ripped her purse from her, tearing the strap. She then gave officers a physical description of the suspect, which was provided immediately by the responding officer to other officers in the area.
Moments later, the suspect was located near Chipotle, across North Avenue from the library.
The suspect complied with oirders to stop and was taken into custody.
During his arrest, Yarber told officers he was being “tracked by the FBI,” according to court documents.
Officers found currency and a cell phone on the suspect, but did not find the victim’s purse.
The victim identified the cell phone as hers, and the suspect told officers he had thrown the purse into some bushes.
He also told officers he had “put his hands” on the victim because she was with the FBI and had taken his Social Security card.
Officers located the purse and returned it to the victim.
At the hospital for treatment of her injuries, the victim told officers she had been in the library for approximately 30 to 60 minutes and was browsing for books when the suspect began to scream at her, accusing her of stealing his Social Security card.
“I want it back now,” she said he screamed at her. She told officers he had no idea who the defendant was and had no idea what he was referring to.
She said she denied having the card several times, which irritated the suspect further. She said the exchange continued for a few minutes before he said, “last chance, I want it now,” according to the probable cause statement.
She said he began to charge at her, at which point a library employee stepped in and tried to intervene. The suspect reached out and shoved the victim, who landed on her left elbow.
She said the suspect then jumped on her back and ripped her purse from her shoulder, taking her purse, keys, wallet and money. She said she did not believe she lost consciousness, but could not recall what happened next.
During questioning at the Belton Police Department, Yarber told officers he was trying to send an email at the library and realized his Social Security card was missing.
According to the probable cause statement, he suspected the victim because “she smiled at him.” He told officers he had been diagnosed with a mental illness and had not been taking his medication lately.
The victim suffered a fractured bone in her arm, according to the report.