ST. LOUIS – Officers with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department responded to reports of large groups of juveniles involved in fights downtown Saturday night. While responding near 8th and Chestnut streets, police heard gunshots around 8 p.m.
Two victims were wounded and are expected to be okay. One of the victims is a 13-year-old female. The other victim is a 14-year-old female. Police say two suspects are males, ages 13 and 14. A third suspect’s age is unknown.
Last month, we reported on gunfire downtown that sent a crowd running for safety.
“I’m not surprised because it’s been an issue that we’ve been experiencing for two to three years now,” said Dan Pistor, chair of the Downtown Neighborhood Association’s public safety committee.
He said the association recently called on the city to eliminate downtown scooters. Pistor believes the scooters are attracting crowds of young people downtown.
“They’re no longer an asset for downtown. They’re a liability,” he said.
The City of St. Louis recently announced a scooter curfew of 7 p.m. in response to concerns. Last month, city leaders also called on parents to play a role by not leaving their kids downtown unattended.
Just before the Memorial Day weekend, the city’s Department of Public Safety highlighted enforcement efforts stating there are regular police patrols in downtown. The effort to avoid juvenile crime also involves connecting area youth with summer programs.
Pistor believes a downtown curfew for juveniles is needed. He adds any policing efforts require enforcement. In some cases, he believes action against parents is needed.
“At some point, you’re going to have to hold them accountable,” Pistor said.
He said the crimes occurring downtown have a chilling effect on growing the residential and business population.