ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones spoke out about the arrests of three teens for this week’s wave of violent crimes.
The crimes involve multiple carjackings and murder. New information shows the crime spree connected to these suspects goes well beyond the past few days.
The suspects were arrested after crashing a stolen vehicle at 20th Street and Delmar Boulevard on the northwest edge of downtown St. Louis on Wednesday. The car’s owner told FOX 2 it was stolen from him in a carjacking on Dec. 13, when a suspect put a gun to his head.
He said he now feels lucky that the suspect didn’t shoot him.
Authorities believe the three arrested are part of a group behind at least nine south St. Louis carjackings, two ATM thefts, attempted carjackings, and a murder within the past 48 hours.
The crime spree started Monday afternoon and continued Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning. The crimes included the murder of Kay Johnson, 38, during an attempted carjacking near her home at Compton Avenue and Delor Street just before 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday. She was shot in front of her teenage child, according to investigators.
“They should be held accountable. They should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Jones said. “If you do the crime, you do the time.”
The suspects arrested at the scene of the stolen car crash are 18-, 17-, and 16-year-old males. Cameron Brown, 18, is hospitalized and faces state charges as an adult, police said. The 17-year-old remains in juvenile custody. Police confirmed the 16-year-old will be transferred to federal custody for adult charges.
Authorities took a similar approach to the carjacking, robbery, and murder of cab driver Dewight Price in Hazelwood last April. A suspect, who was a 17-year-old juvenile at the time, now faces federal charges as an adult in that case.
St. Louis resident Kanisha Harris, a victim of recent ‘teen terror’ supports the idea.
“They just ran into my car,” she said, referring to the smashed-in rear door of her car. “I didn’t stop because they jumped out of their car with guns.”
“The root cause of crime is poverty,” Jones said.
The mayor said she is not likely to expand the size of the police force, but does favor an increased police presence on the streets of the city. She said the key to that being the continued diversion of the heavy volume of calls that require a response from behavioral experts, not police officers.
“Absolutely, but I also think someone who’s picking up a paycheck isn’t picking up a gun,” Jones said. “So, what are we doing to provide opportunities to those young people who think that’s their only method of survival? We have to do everything we can to wrap our arms around our children to steer them away from these lifestyles.”
She said the city’s recent $60 million infusion of ARPA funds into youth recreation, jobs, and violence intervention programs was St. Louis’s best bet, not the return to state control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department currently being debated in the state legislature.