Family and friends seek justice after a man in Nixa, Missouri, dies in January

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CHRISTIAN COUNTY, Missouri (KY3) – Approximately 60 people protested peacefully outside the Christian County courthouse Tuesday. Friends and family want answers after a man shot Zachary Shane Rice in Nixa in January. Nobody was charged with his death.

The reason Rice’s friends decided to protest on Tuesday is because of Rice’s 42nd birthday.

Mark Auvil, a friend of over 20 years old, says celebrating his birthday isn’t what they’d hoped it would be, but it was important to show how much he is loved.

“It’s like spinning wheels in the mud,” says Auvil. “For most of us we still haven’t accepted it because for many of us we talked to him 24 hours before he left and he just wasn’t there.”

Rice was affectionately known as Chunk by his friends, after the Goonies character. Auvil describes Rice or “Chunk” as a loyal, unique person.

“My mother and whoever my girlfriend was at the time, and Chunk would be the three people I could always rely on and who were in contact with me almost every day,” says Auvil.

Rice died of a gunshot wound outside his home in Nixa in January. According to the search warrant received from KY3, Cody Smith arrived at the scene and admitted the shooting while police were investigating the shooting. Smith told police he was drinking and that Rice was angry about being in a relationship with a woman.

Smith was first taken into custody but then released.

Reed Herron had also been friends with Rice for decades.

“We just want justice for Shane and we want our voices to be heard,” Herron says.

Herron says the protest is to show prosecutors that they are looking for answers.

“We think we’ll just stall until we walk away, and we won’t,” says Herron. “If that doesn’t bear fruit, we’ll repeat until we get answers.”

Investigators say a statement on the likely cause was sent to Christian County prosecutors on Jan. 18. We have since been informed that prosecutors have requested additional information and that the police are actively investigating the case.

Auvil and Herron say although nothing will bring their best friend back, answers will help them heal and move on.

“It’s as if a whole chunk of a huge part of our life stopped 308 days ago and we are left with nothing,” says Auvil.

KY3 reached out to Christian County Attorney Amy Fite, who says she cannot comment on this case. However, Fite says these exams can be time consuming.

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