Father traumatized from robbery on MetroLink, pleads for better security

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BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI) – A Belleville father and his son attacked on Sunday night while riding MetroLink to St. Louis, spoke exclusively with Fox 2 Tuesday night.

“When you see, your son being so scared, he doesn’t want to go outside, it’s ridiculous,” said 51-year-old attack victim, Jeff Cantrell as he cried recalling the attack.

Cantrell said, he and his son got on the train from Belleville and were on their way to see Jeff’s doctor, in the Central West End.

Cantrell said; it’s one of many late-night trips he must make for dealing with chronic back issues.

He said the train stopped at the Emerson Station where he noticed a group of young people getting on the train.

“A few minutes later one guy says (to son) ‘hey can I come talk to you’?” Cantrell said.

Cantrell went on to say that his son complied with the request, but suddenly the situation turned into something more.

“He (his son) comes back and says to me, ‘they want money,’ and I said Allen, I’ve got a bad feeling, they’re gonna rob us,” explained Cantrell.

Cantrell said that his son gave the person demanding money, $5 but apparently, that wasn’t enough and the suspect while holding a gun cornered his son, physically attacking him.

Cantrell went on to explain that at the same time, another person from the group walked up to him and tried to grab cigarettes from his pocket.

“As soon as I stood up he punched me with a left,” described Cantrell, “as soon as I draw one back ‘pow!’ I heard the gun shot and I threw myself back in the seat.”

Cantrell said he’s concerned that the sound of the gun firing may have caused his son to lose hearing in one ear.

He said that while he and his son are lucky to be alive, they are terrified of ever getting back on a MetroLink again.

“You would think at least on one of those stops there would’ve been a security guard on the platform and there was none,” he said, “how many times is it going to take for people to say, ‘where is the security’?”

During the attack near Busch Stadium, a stray bullet hit a bystander on the platform in the head, who died Tuesday.

The victim is identified as 57-year-old Mac Payne who was homeless.

Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

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