Homicide in North St. Louis highlights ”We Must Stop Killing Each Other” campaign

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – A man is dead and his killer is in custody after what appears to have been an ambush shooting outside a north St. Louis barber shop.  Natural Bridge Avenue was closed for about two hours Wednesday afternoon as police tried to determine why the man was gunned down.  They had one key witness to help:  one of their own officers.

It was about 2:30 when the 22-year-old victim walked out of the shop at Natural Bridge and Shreve.  Police say a man armed with two guns was waiting for him on the sidewalk.  Witnesses say they gunman was wearing a mask.

“All of a sudden I heard bam bam bam bam bam,” Cleveland Cox said, describing what he witnessed from his back porch.  “And the guy come running around the corner and he fell, right?  And it seems to me the cruiser was waiting for the light to change I assume but he got out and when he got out and started toward the guy, the guy jumped and run and the cop was running on foot behind him.”

Police say the officer caught the suspect after a one block chase.

“It is kind of unusual and our officers are reactive and he responded quickly to the area when he heard the shots and that probably saved us a lot of time on closing this case,” St. Louis Police Lt. John Green told reporters.

Area residents gathered around the two block crime scene watching investigators do their work.  Among them was a woman wearing a tee-shirt saying, “We Must Stop Killing Each Other.”  It’s a phrase St. Louis area residents should get used to seeing.

Better Family Life, a north city community group, has been distributing yard signs bearing that phrase for a little more than a week.  Nearly three thousand have been put in people’s yards, and organizers say they can’t keep them in stock.

“It’s a conversation starter,” James Clark of Better Family Life told us.  “We just want to raise our collective awareness that this is something we as human beings must move past.”

He says ever since the first signs went up, his phone has been ringing off the hook from people wanting them.

“Then we started getting calls from North County.  From south city.  And now we’re getting them from South County.  So this goes beyond an African-American issue, it’s a human issue.”

But in neighborhoods where residents say they hear gunshots on an almost nightly basis, there is some skepticism.  Rashanae Grant lives in a small home with her two-year-old son on North Union.  She allowed the group to put a sign in her yard, but she questions whether the campaign can make a real dent.

“I think they need to do a lot more than just a sign.  They need to find something for the young kids to do.  They need to find better programs.  They need to find something for these young kids to do that are doing the killing so everything can be a normal living environment. “

Clark doesn’t disagree.

“We need more resources.  We need to level the playing field.  And everyone has a role to play.  The hour of doing nothing has passed us by.”

He says they plan to keep producing more signs with the “We Must Stop Killing Each Other” message.  They are also in talks to erect billboards.