Man charged with murder after shooting motorcycle thief

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. - The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office charged a 28-year-old man Friday in connection with a murder on July 4.

According to Officer Benjamin Granda, a spokesman for the St. Louis County Police Department, an officer noticed a vehicle on the side of the road in the 4800 block of Lemay Ferry Road, near I-55 and Mattis Road, around 3 a.m. Wednesday. Upon checking the vehicle, the officer noticed that it had been in an accident. While searching around the vehicle, the officer discovered an injured man lying next to the car.

The officer provided first aid to the victim until an EMS crew arrived and transported the victim to the hospital for treatment.

Once at the hospital, medical staff informed police the man had been shot. The victim, 31-year-old Thomas Hearst Jr., later died as a result of his injuries.

Police determined Hearst had been involved in an attempted motorcycle theft. He and another man tried stealing the bike from an apartment complex on July 3 but were interrupted by the owner. Hearst and his accomplice went back the next night and tried again.

This time, the owner of the motorcycle and a second person, 28-year-old Neville Wright, confronted the thieves. The owner and Wright got into a vehicle and followed the thieves, who were driving a black pickup truck. The thieves went down a "no outlet" roadway and got stuck. Wright got out of the car he was riding in, walked toward to the pick-up truck, and fired a warning shot into the air.

As Hearst attempted to get away, Wright fired a second shot, which went through the pickup truck's front window. Wright continued to fire at the truck as the motorcycle thieves managed to drive away and escape.

Wright was charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action. He's being held on a $500,000 cash-only bond.

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