ST. CHARLES, Mo. – Three teenage boys are in custody after a shooting Monday morning outside a St. Charles restaurant led to an intense police search in Maryland Heights.

According to Lt. Tom Wilkison, a spokesman for the St. Charles Police Department, the shooting happened just before 5:30 a.m. at the Cracker Barrel in the 900 block of Veterans Memorial Parkway.

The suspects, who are 14, 15, and 16 years old, are being held at the St. Louis County Juvenile Court.

Police initially said they’d arrested six people, but Wilkison later clarified that three young girls who were with the suspects were being looked at as possible “witnesses after the fact.”

Wilkison claims a 52-year-old Cracker Barrel employee had started his car to warm it up and was bringing trash to the dumpster when he saw three people tampering with his vehicle. The worker allegedly yelled at the trio, and that’s when one of them took out a pistol and opened fire.

The worker was shot in the elbow and buttocks, Wilkison said. The three individuals got into a gray Nissan and sped away, leaving the victim’s vehicle behind.

The Cracker Barrel worker who was shot was taken to a hospital. His injuries are not life-threatening, Wilkison said.

The restaurant and store were not open at the time of the shooting.

Just before 7 a.m., police found the gray Nissan abandoned on the shoulder of eastbound Interstate 70 near I-270, Wilkison said. The vehicle had a flat tire.

Police allege the trio abandoned the Nissan, which had been reported stolen Sunday evening from Vinita Park, and went to a trash dump in Earth City, where they stole a work truck. However, that stolen truck was found crashed in a ditch not far away.

Maryland Heights police later saw three boys and three girls near the area; the group ran away from the officers.

Maryland Heights and St. Charles law enforcement searched the area and detained two boys and three girls. The third teen boy was apprehended around 8:30 a.m.

Police claim the boys picks up the girls in the stolen Nissan and drove them to a hotel in Earth City. The boys left the girls at the hotel Monday morning, when they allegedly went to St. Charles to steal another vehicle.

The gun used in the shooting has not been located, Wilkison said.

Meanwhile, Pattonville High School was closed for the day due to the proximity of the police search. Students who were already brought to school were picked up and returned home. The day’s classes took place online.