O’FALLON Ill. – Police on both sides of the Mississippi River are searching for suspects Wednesday morning after two cars are driven into two different Academy Sports stores about an hour apart.
The first incident happened at the Academy Sports in O’Fallon, Illinois, on West 1574 West Highway 50. Police said they got the call just after 4:20 a.m. When they arrived, officers found a stolen car had been driven through the front door of the store.
Investigators said video from inside the store showed multiple subjects getting out of the stolen car and going to the gun department. Authorities said the subjects tried to break into the cases using a blunt instrument but were unsuccessful.
The suspects fled the scene on foot. We’re told a Kia Optima was stolen nearby – police think that could be related to the Academy smash-n-grab. The Kia is a 2012 red over grey Optima with an Illinois plate of Q598918. That car is still missing.
Then just before 5:30 a.m., police in St. Peters said a Hyundai Elantra that they believe was stolen crashed through the front door of another Academy Sports store just off I-70 and Mid Rivers Mall Drive.
St. Peters Police Sergeant Melissa Doss said the car took out the security gate in addition to the front doors and then wound up well inside the store. Doss shared that two suspects were inside the Elantra when it crashed through the front doors.
She told us that the suspects got out of the car and just like in O’Fallon went straight for the gun case. Doss said that the suspects fired shots at the case, but the glass didn’t break.
Doss believes more than two people were involved in this crime because there was a different getaway car.
She told us the suspects got away in a red Volkswagen Jetta. Police have no license plate information for that car. Police are looking into whether the cases in St. Peters and O’Fallon are linked.
Doss spoke earlier about what happened Wednesday morning.
“I think I can speak safely for all police agencies in the area that this is something that we’re very concerned about because of the firearms,” Doss said. “We are used to working burglaries, we’ve worked smash-n-grabs before, those aren’t highly unusual, but the fact that they have firearms on them and they’re actually utilizing them inside the store, it’s highly concerning, and yes we are scared that it’s going to end up tragic.”
Doss explained that police do have surveillance footage from the St. Peters location that they hope will help them in their investigation. Police in O’Fallon is reviewing surveillance video as well. So far no arrests.