Police chief confident that gunman in ambush of officer will be caught

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – A gunman remains on the loose Tuesday night after allegedly ambushing a 39-year-old St. Louis Police sergeant and firing more than a dozen shots into his car.

Sources confirmed to FOX2 that investigators had taken 3 people in for questioning.  They were believed to be the gunman's 3 accomplices.

It was welcome news for a crowd of about 20 police supporters who gathered outside of police headquarters downtown Tuesday night.

There were prayers but no shouting.

People held signs and flag with thin blue lines signifying the thin blue line between life and death – that police often walk in protecting the public.

Tom and Victoria Claffy came from Ferguson.

“Somebody has to be behind them.  We can’t all be against them.  They need to know that.  They need to know we’re behind them.  We back them.  We appreciate them.  We love them,” Tom Claffy said.

“They’re out there every day.  They put their butts on the line.  They jump in front of bullets for us.  The least we can do is say thank you,” said his wife Victoria.

That line never seemed so thin as it did at 4:51 Tuesday morning.

Surveillance cameras caught a gunman and three accomplices ambushing a uniformed police sergeant sitting in unmarked car, working a secondary neighborhood security job in the Central West End.  The officer returned fire.  He was struck by a bullet in his torso, police said.  His bullet proof vest saved his life.

It was unclear whether the gunman was shot.

The sergeant was treated and released with his wife and young son at his side just hours after surveillance cameras caught the incident.

“We have video that we have provided the police department,” said Dennis Gorg, owner of the Coffee Cartel.  “They walked by the store.  They cased it.  They saw where he was.  They went back around and got in their vehicle then they drove around to where he was, got out of the vehicle and shot him.”

When St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson greeted the crowd of supporters, he confirmed police had recovered the suspects’ stolen gray Ford near Selber and Goodfellow in North St. Louis Tuesday afternoon.  Sources told FOX2 a man showed up at a hospital claiming he’d been shot where police found the car;  it turned out he was the car’s driver and was shot at the Central West End scene.

The gunman remained at large but perhaps not for long.

“I was confident about the solvability earlier today.  I’m highly confident about the solvability now,” Dotson said Tuesday night.

He said the motive for the shooting was still unknown but the sergeant did not recognize any of the suspects.

Both the sergeant and the gunman are African-American.

The sergeant was back home with his wife and young son after being released from a hospital just hours after the shooting, Dotson said.