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Suspect killed and St. Louis officer injured after shootout in Grand Center neighborhood

Update: The suspect has been identified as Rodnell Cotton, 26, of the 4500 block of Kennerly.

ST. LOUIS – An early afternoon shootout near Circus Flora in Midtown St. Louis left a police officer wounded and a suspect dead.

It happened just after 12 p.m. Thursday, about a block from the Fox Theater on Washington Boulevard.

Evidence markers littered the parking lot of a transitional housing building owned by the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

A wooden fence separates the shooting scene from the circus tent.

Typically, there is one evidence marker for every recovered bullet casing. There were at least 47 markers in the parking lot.

Police were working with US Marshals to arrest Rodnell Cotton who was wanted for a federal weapons charge and a parole violation on a homicide charge. The plain-clothes officers started to converge on the suspect’s vehicle at around Delmar and Josephine Baker Boulevards just before noon Thursday.

Cotton was traveling with a woman in a silver Audi with damage to the rear driver side door and a flat tire on the rear passenger side. The Illinois plates on the car were registered to another vehicle that's not from the St. Louis area.

As police moved in on the car, the Cotton ran from the vehicle and an officer started to chase the suspect on foot. Chief Hayden said that the suspect turned and fired a shot at the 37-year-old officer chasing him. The officer was shot in the upper thigh by the suspect.

Another 43-year-old officer fired at the suspect during the chase. It is not clear where the suspect was struck by a bullet. Police say that the suspect was found dead at the scene.

The officer shot in the thigh was taken to an area hospital. He was talking, conscious, and listed in critical condition.

The woman traveling in the vehicle with Cotton was taken into police custody.

According to Sgt. Keith Barrett, a spokesman for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, authorities recovered two firearms from the scene. They were described as a loaded .40 caliber Taurus semi-auto pistol with a live cartridge in the chamber and three in the magazine. Also recovered was a loaded .223 Bushmaster AR-style pistol with a bullet in the chamber and a drum magazine with 60 live rounds inside the suspect’s bag at that scene.

Workers at Circus Flora and the transitional housing residents heard a barrage of gunfire.

No circus workers, visitors, or transitional housing residents were hurt.

The wounded officer, 37, is a 14-year police veteran. He is expected to survive.

The other officer who returned fire is a 17-year police veteran.

Thursday night’s Circus Flora show will go on as scheduled at 7 p.m.

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