ST. LOUIS – FOX 2 obtained home surveillance video of a gunman who police say was looking for potential carjacking victims in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood of south St. Louis just before 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
The rise in gun crimes has the neighborhood taking video surveillance one step further. Residents are linking their home surveillance cameras to help the city’s police force and hopefully deter crime. Minutes after a camera captured the gunman flourishing his weapon, two women called the police, saying he had unsuccessfully tried to carjack them in or near their garages.
Residents in certain areas have started sharing access to their surveillance cameras to keep an eye on each other as well as themselves.
Also, just this week, the neighborhood association launched a four-week pilot program linking 100 cameras covering 70 neighborhood blocks.
“Those cameras automatically send alerts to a central source. We have a security officer who’s able to look at those real-time alerts and review and determine if it’s something that needs to be looked at closer,” said Tom Scheifler, chairman of the neighborhood association’s safety committee and neighborhood resident.
On Wednesday, video evidence from home cameras was turned over to police, though surveillance footage did not directly factor into the suspect’s arrest at nearby Francis Park.
According to a court document, police officers were in the park looking for the suspect when they heard a gunshot. They followed the sound and found the suspect at Eichelberger Street and Childress Avenue on the park’s south side. The suspect was still holding the gun, and he also had a bullet casing.
Francis Park is a short walk from six neighborhood schools and pre-schools.
“That’s not fear-mongering, that’s just fear,” said St. Louis Alderman Tom Oldenburg. “This individual victimized two everyday residents. That’s not sounding the alarm saying, ‘The sky is falling.’ It’s akin to saying, ‘We want help.’”
“It motivates you to consider what you can do as a community to turn things around,” Scheifler said. “We may be the first (to try the camera program), but if it’s successful, we’re there to help other neighborhoods throughout the city.”
Oldenburg envisions the neighborhood hiring private security officers to respond to alerts from the cameras, which could have stopped the suspect from allegedly pulling a gun on the two women and trying to take their cars.
“The calvary is not coming because there’s not enough of them,” Oldenburg said. “So, we have to pass the hat and do a lot of this ourselves. I think you’re going to see this be a model going forward.”
The suspect, Isaiah Burns, 30, is charged with two counts each of attempted robbery and armed criminal action. He remained in jail with no bond.