ST. LOUIS – FOX 2 obtained a new video of people openly carrying what appear to be assault-style rifles around 6:30 a.m. Monday in Downtown St. Louis. It comes after nearly 20 people were shot and five killed in the city over the weekend, according to police.
Police were so overwhelmed with calls that they couldn’t answer them all.
Passengers on a Gateway Arch Riverboat cruise were stranded on the boat on the Mississippi River Saturday night. They were afraid to go to their cars parked along the riverfront amid the chaos there: reckless driving, cars blocking traffic, and people firing guns.
Police admitted they could not respond right away because of an avalanche of calls: 639 calls for service citywide in 12 hours from 3:00 p.m. Saturday to 3:00 a.m. Sunday; 173 calls were in District 4, which includes downtown; 55 of those calls were pending at the same time, according to police.
“Even though we were not able to respond at the immediate time, we responded and cleared people out of that immediate area,” Maj. Ryan Cousins with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said during a briefing Monday.
He could not say how long people were actually stuck on the boat.
“We are concerned about the recent increase in crime and violence occurring in our city and are working closely with our partners at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the National Park Service,” said Kevin Scott, general manager of security for Bi-State Development, which operates the cruises. “During the normal summer season, we invest in extra security patrols for the riverboats. In addition to adding patrols, starting this Thursday, we will be operating the gating system on the riverfront in order to limit levee access to employees and customers with cruise reservations.”
Cousins said there would be a noticeably heightened police presence in downtown St. Louis over the upcoming weekend, with a mobile reserve and SWAT officers on the street.
Congresswoman Cori Bush (D) of St. Louis, who supports defunding police, called out state legislators for Missouri’s lax gun laws, which allow all ages to openly carry any kind of firearm.
“The answer is not always throwing more police,” she said. “The answer is making sure, first of all, that we don’t have these loopholes for people to be able to access guns who should not be able to access guns.”
Long-time downtown resident Les Sterman, of the group Citizens for a Greater Downtown St. Louis, said the problems go beyond lax gun laws.
“It’s not illegal to carry an automatic weapon down the middle of the street, as we’ve seen,” Sterman said. “But why are these people that are carrying these weapons coming downtown? “Why do they feel the need to have these weapons? There are certain venues, certain events that are attracting them.”
He’s calling on the mayor and aldermen to do something about downtown landlords allowing short-term rentals and unsupervised parties in their buildings, along with enforcement of traffic laws.
Here’s a link to Citizens for a Greater Downtown St. Louis’ five-point plan to address issues in the city.