Attempted murder charge stemmed from shots fired report

CLINTON — A Fulton, Illinois, man is facing an attempted murder charge in connection with a report of shots fired.

Merle D. Stage, 56, is charged with one count of attempted murder, a Class B felony; intimidation with a dangerous weapon, injure/provoke fear, a Class C felony; and dominion/control of a firearm/offensive weapon by a felon, a Class D felony. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 12.

According to the affidavit, at 10:37 p.m. Jan. 29, Clinton police officers were dispatched to a report of Stage shooting three rounds into a female's residence. The female showed officers numerous text messages she received from Stage prior to the incident. Stage threatened to cause the female harm and kill her in text messages he sent to the female, according to court records. Stage in some of the messages accused the female of cheating on him and used racial slurs to describe the individual Stage believed the female was cheating on him with.

The female told the officer she was lying on her bed in her apartment when she heard three shots and saw debris falling from the walls. An officer located a fired projectile in the wall above the female's bed and another fired projectile on the floor. An officer located two holes in the north exterior wall where the fired projectiles entered the residence. The female said Stage tried to kill her "just like he said he was going to do."

A female, who resides in the same apartment building, told officers she heard two explosions. The female looked out her bedroom window and saw what she described as a black 1965 Chevy Impala. The female in a follow-up interview explained she had seen Stage at the apartment building in the past. An officer located two spent casings and a cigarette butt on top of the snow to the north of the alleged victim's apartment in the alley. The items and the fired projectiles were collected as evidence.

The alleged victim in a follow-up interview told an officer that Stage, in text messages, had threatened to kill her, and when speaking on the phone that he had threatened to shoot her. The alleged victim told the officer she had saved voicemail messages from Stage on her phone. The multiple messages, left by Stage on Jan. 18 and Jan. 19, were of Stage threatening to cause great physical harm to the alleged victim and kill her, court records state. The messages left by Stage on the alleged victim's voicemail were recorded and saved as evidence.

The alleged victim told the officer that on the night of the shooting Stage wanted to come by but the alleged victim did not want him to because he was yelling at her. The alleged victim told Stage she was not feeling well and was going to lie down. The alleged victim said about 25 minutes later she heard a car go by slowly. She heard three shots. She showed the officer where she was lying on her bed and how a bullet hit the wall behind her headboard, just above her head, court records state.