Evidence needed to charge suspect in murder of Xavier Usanga ‘insufficient,’ circuit attorney says


Xavier Usanga

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ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office has not filed charges against a 23-year-old accused in the shooting of a 7-year-old boy in the Hyde Park neighborhood earlier this month.

Xavier Usanga was playing in the yard with his sisters on the 3500 block of North 11th Street in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood on Monday, August 12 when he was struck in the neck by a bullet. An 18-year-old was critically injured in the shooting as well.

A suspect, later identified as Malik Ross, was arrested Wednesday morning at Prairie and W. Florissant Avenue.

Ross is facing federal charges unrelated to Usanga’s killing. He’s accused of stealing $50,000 from an armored car company where he worked. Federal prosecutors said Ross vanished after stealing the money. However, police were able to locate him at a home in the 4400 block of East Prairie near West Florissant after Ross turned on his cellphone.

Federal court documents indicated Ross admitted to firing the shot that killed Usanga.

However, Gardner said her office has been “unable to determine who is legally responsible for the death of Xavier” based on the present evidence. The circuit attorney also called into question Ross’ confession, adding that it has not been supported by physical evidence or eyewitness accounts.

Gardner has asked for the public’s help for any additional information on Usanga’s death.

Meanwhile, Ross remains in federal custody for the armored car theft.

You can read Gardner’s statement below in its entirety:

My job as top prosecutor in the City of St. Louis is to seek justice. Justice does not mean charging someone with insufficient evidence, charging someone to alleviate public pressure, or taking one narrative or one piece of evidence and making broad assumptions about the facts of any case.

A team of career prosecutors in my office has spent countless hours working with police and federal prosecutors investigating the tragic death of Xavier Usanga. Unfortunately, the release of snippets of information (true and untrue) regarding the investigation has made the search for the truth a lot more difficult. In addition, Missouri’s current gun and self-defense laws make us all less safe and hinder law enforcement’s ability to hold people accountable in this and so many other cases.

While I rarely discuss a case during an open investigation, there is information from the public that is needed right now to seek justice for Xavier.

Based upon the current evidence and Missouri law, we are unable to determine who is legally responsible for the death of Xavier. The evidence presented by police to date is insufficient to charge anyone. The alleged “confession” of the identified suspect and others involved are not fully supported by the current physical and/or eye-witness evidence. We have asked for a significant amount of follow-up work from police designed to clarify facts and corroborate testimony. The current suspect is in federal custody on charges unrelated to the homicide of Xavier. He is currently not a threat to public safety or a flight risk.

We know there are people in the community who either saw the course of events that day or have been given information by the parties involved in the shooting. Those of you who know something, we need your help and we need it now. Public cooperation can send a message to our community that we will not stand silent when public safety is at risk.

Please call Crimestoppers. Call the police. Call my office. This cooperation can result in accountability, as just yesterday we were able to hold a murderer accountable because the people who had information cooperated with our office. I believe when we all work together, we can bring justice to Xavier and all crime victims.

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