ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – Hours after holding a press conference on the successful policing strategy in College Hill, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson found himself at the scene of a car crash and gun shots in the heart of downtown St. Louis.
A concrete pedestal on the corner of Broadway and Pine is all that remains of a crosswalk pole, knocked down by a car involved in a chase. As pedestrians stopped to stare and snap pictures, some lament this won’t help perceptions of their city.
Police say it all started on Kingshighway and Natural Bridge Road, with two people armed in a maroon Ford Fusion firing at an unarmed man driving a silver Hyundai.
Police got diverted, but soon found one of the cars crashed in the heart of downtown, during the evening rush hour.
That unarmed driver wasn’t injured, and is being questioned by police. The maroon Ford and the two people inside are still at large.
Business traveler Joseph Massa was downtown driving his rental car back to the airport, when he found himself at the wrong place at the wrong time. He says, “I heard a screech, and next thing I knew, the car ran into me, shot me into the intersection, then I drove up and looked over, saw someone running and heard gunfire.”
The bumper is now smashed, and he missed his flight. St. Louis resident Tracey Shanklin, who also saw the gunfire and crash, laments that a visitor experienced this violence in her city.
She explains, “I get tired of when I travel, people are always like, oh St. Louis is really bad, there’s some really great people and great areas here in St. Louis, but this is what gets the rap.”
However, Chief Dotson says the average person visiting or working downtown shouldn’t be worried by this incident since he says most crimes like this aren’t random, but targeted at specific people.
He says illegal guns in the hands of criminals, as well as a disregard for human life, are to blame for this and many other acts of violence around the city.