ST. LOUIS – St. Louis police have convened a small task force in response to a three-day crime spree across south city that left one woman dead and another injured.
During a news briefing Wednesday afternoon, Captain Joe Morici, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, said investigators believe the same group of individuals is responsible for a series of carjackings, attempted carjackings, and robberies Monday into Wednesday.
“(Tuesday) night, there was an additional carjacking, as well as several attempted carjackings,” Morici said. “Of concern is that in several of these carjackings, the suspect fired shots … at the victims, or into the vehicle. In one incident, a female was shot in the shoulder, and preliminary investigation into the homicide in the 4700 block of Compton leads investigators to believe the incident may have been an attempted carjacking.”
According to Evita Caldwell, a police spokeswoman, a 62-year-old man and 54-year-old woman were the victims of an attempted carjacking around 6:25 p.m. Tuesday, at Gustine Avenue and Delor Street in the Bevo neighborhood. The victims told police they were at the intersection in their car when a white Honda Civic pulled up and two men attempted to take their vehicle. The couple reversed their vehicle to escape and told police one of the suspects began shooting at them. No injuries were reported.
A half-hour later, police responded to a shooting in the alley behind the 4700 block of S. Compton Avenue, in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. The victim, Kay Johnson, was found in her car with a gunshot wound to her face. Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene. She was 38.
Police believe Johnson was the victim of an attempted carjacking.
Caldwell said around 12:10 a.m. Wednesday, a 43-year-old woman was shot in the shoulder while fleeing a would-be carjacker. The woman told police she was sitting in her car in the 5000 block of Gravois Avenue, located in the Bevo neighborhood, when a man approached her vehicle and pointed a handgun at her. She sped off, but the suspect shot at her.
At 12:57 a.m., another carjacking occurred in the 4100 block of Botanical Avenue in the Shaw neighborhood. A 22-year-old man and 21-year-old woman told police they were sitting in a black 2012 Honda Civic when two people walked up to their car and tapped on the windows with handguns. The suspects told the couple to get out of the car. They took the man’s phone and car keys and fled.
Finally, a 22-year-old man was carjacked and robbed around 1:10 a.m. in the Tower Grove East neighborhood. The victim told police he was in his car at the intersection of Cherokee Street and Arkansas Avenue when a black sedan bumped into the rear of his vehicle. The victim got out of his car to check for damages when two men exited the sedan with handguns and confronted him. One suspect got into the victim’s 2011 Infiniti X G37 and drove away. The other suspect took the victim’s wallet and then left in the black sedan.
“We believe at this point that all these carjackings from Monday and the ones we had (Tuesday) night are connected to the same group,” Morici said. “We’ve actually formulated a small task force meeting this afternoon with all the affected areas and detectives. They are meeting as we speak, right now, to come up with a department-wide response to this for tonight.”
Police said they recovered some of the stolen vehicles on Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, Capt. Morici said residents should keep aware of their surroundings when parking or getting in and out of their cars. He also advised people to “avoid remaining stationary in or near your vehicle” and “attempt to park in well-lit areas.”
If at any point you believe you’re being followed when you’re preparing to park, the captain said suggested circling the area and calling 911.
In the event you are approached by a carjacker, Morici said you should comply with the person’s demands and take precautions for your own safety.
Anyone with information on any of these incidents is asked to contact the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department at 314-231-1212. Tipsters who want to remain anonymous can call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.