ST. CHARLES, Mo. – Police continue to search for the gun used to shoot a worker at the Cracker Barrel restaurant near the St. Charles Convention Center just before 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning.

“People aren’t just trying to steal cars anymore…they’re not afraid to shoot you. We’re trying to find that gun,” said Lt. Tom Wilkison of the St. Charles Police Department.

According to police, a 52-year-old Cracker Barrel worker started his car to warm it up as he took out the trash before leaving; the restaurant was closed. He yelled at three teenage boys when one of them got into his car without hesitation. Another started shooting, hitting the worker twice. The worker survived. The suspects fled in a gray Nissan stolen from Vinita Park in north St. Louis County the night before. They did not take the victim’s car.

The suspects ran from the Nissan after it blew a tire on eastbound I-70 near Hwy. 141 in Earth City. They stole a work truck from the nearby Champ landfill and crashed it into a ditch near Riverport, where they met three girls they had dropped off at a nearby hotel prior to the shooting.

Police had rounded up all six of them by 8:30 a.m., Wilkison said. The boys, ages 14, 15, and 16, are in St. Louis County juvenile custody. The girls are considered “witnesses after the fact,” according to police.

As a precaution, the Pattonville School District canceled in-person classes at three schools: Pattonville High School, Holman Middle School, and Roseacres Elementary School. The students had a day of virtual learning.

“It could easily be a homicide,” Wilkison said. “This is a 14-, 15-, and 16-year-old boy who were driving in a stolen car, came to St. Charles armed a handgun, were confronted trying to steal a car, and shot somebody. That is troubling.”

The worker was taken to a hospital after being shot in his elbow and his buttocks, but his injuries were not life-threatening, the police said.

A St. Charles police officer was stationed at the Cracker Barrel through closing time on Monday night to reassure workers and customers and make sure they got safely to their cars.

If anyone has any information regarding the shooting, especially the location of that weapon, call St. Charles Police at 636-949-3300.