DELMAR LOOP (KTVI) – University City and St. Louis leaders promised a no tolerance attitude Sunday toward packs of teens who converged on the Loop entertainment district Saturday night causing street brawls. Several shots were fired, but no one was injured.
Social media and a lack of parental supervision may have fueled the gathering. Police say only a small percentage of the teens caused trouble. But they had to shut down Delmar and Skinker at one point to clear the area.
“This is a great place to come,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, “but we will not tolerate bad behavior. There’s gonna be zero tolerance for knuckleheads or anybody trying to disrupt the fun and the enjoyment people are having here on the Loop,” he added.
Police said most of the teens were 13, 14 and 14. University City’s curfew for anyone 16 and younger is 9pm. However, St. Louis City sets a midnight curfew for those 16 and under on weekends.
Mayor Slay said the differing curfew regulations had been discussed in a Sunday afternoon meeting with University City Mayor Shelley Welsch, police chiefs from both citys, business leaders and representatives from METRO and Washington University.
St. Louis City would have to introduce a bill before the Board of Aldermen to amend the city’s curfew ordinance and then get that measure passed.
The two cities are side by side with no visible boundary. St. Louis City’s boundary is west of Skinker making it hard to define the border.
Peggy Dierssen and a friend had just left the Moonrise Hotel when they saw dozens of teens running east on Delmar. “It’s scary,” said Dierssen adding, “I was shaking by the time I left here.”
A security guard who said he worked for one of the Loop restaurants counted fifty to one hundred teens in each pack.
Several business owners and employees blamed parents for dropping off car loads of young teens Saturday night. Loop patron Krystal Florez questioned why the teens were out after dark. ” I think after a certain time they should be in the house. There is nothing for them to do after it goes dark ,” she said.
Will Moore, whose niece owns a shop along Delmar, worried large crowds of teens would hurt business by keeping customers away. Moore called on teens to take responsibility and parents to get involved in their teenagers’ lives.
University City Mayor Shelley Welsch called on the region to find solutions to the age old desire of young people to be with each other. “Most of the kids who come to the Loop are great kids and not causing any problems,” she said.
Loop business leader Joe Edwards pointed to recently released crime statistics for the Loop district. “It’s the lowest crime rate in 40 years,” he noted.
Both chiefs of police promised more police presence on weekends and surveillance of social media to help predict the next teen gathering.
A similar problem last spring prompted the two communities to work together to stop the disruptive visits by teens.
Betsey.Bruce@tvstl.com or Facebook Betsey Bruce on Fox 2.
More coverage: Two Incidents Disrupt The Loop Saturday Night