WEBSTER GROVES, MO (KTVI)-- An hour and a half long manhunt created some nervous moments in Webster Groves Wednesday morning. A man armed with a knife ran from police, who were trying to arrest him on a probation violation. He evaded them for some time, with most of the search taking place in the neighborhood adjacent to the popular community swimming pool complex.
The suspect, who police have yet to identify, lives in the 700 block of Selma Avenue. When police moved in, he took off on foot. He made it to the area along Colebrook, across from Hixson Middle School and the city’s parks and recreation complex.
With police pouring into the area, and a helicopter overhead, parks officials put the pool staff on alert. They weren’t fully open yet, but there was a full lifeguard staff in place along with dozens of kids, most under six, taking swimming lessons.
“It was pretty much, spread the word,” parks director Mike Oppermann said of the department’s approach to the incident. “We were never on any kind of lockdown or anything like that. It was just spread the word and be alert that there is some kind of incident happening.”
Next door, at the Goodall Manor Condominiums, Rivers Watrous was washing her windows when her dog, Skippy, started barking. He was chasing the suspect some 45 minutes before police caught him.
“The dog was at his heels so I chased him,” she said. I tried to get the dog, and the boy was not looking. Then he stopped and he said, ‘I’m really out of shape. I’m looking for my girlfriend. Can I have a glass of water?’ And I said, ‘sure. What is the matter with you?’”
She says the man, in his twenties, was barefoot and looked very nervous. He was following her toward her home.
“Then he heard the sirens and he said, ‘Never mind, I don’t need the water.’ And he just started running and the dog started chasing him again, and I started after them and said, ‘ya know you better stop.’”
The search went on for some time after that. But the break came when a small group of Webster Groves High School football players came walking through the condo complex, headed for practice. Sophomore Anthony Rivituso noticed movement.
“I just looked and he was behind the air conditioning vent, just hiding there, sitting down,” the teenager said. “I was nervous. I didn’t know what to do. So I saw him and I ran away and I saw a police officer and I just said, ‘hey he’s behind the air conditioning vent.’”
Police converged on the man, who witnesses say cut himself with the knife he was carrying. He was taken to a waiting ambulance where he was stabilized and taken to a nearby hospital for observation.
He was being arrested for violating his probation in connection with a felony drug case. Police haven’t identified him or said if additional charges will be filed.
Several witnesses who saw the man all said the same thing, that he appeared very troubled and they hoped he was getting help.
“I just hope he’s okay,” young Anthony Rivituso said as he headed back to his morning football practice.