ST. LOUIS – A St. Louis County police officer has died and another officer was injured after a suspect rammed a police vehicle during a drug investigation Wednesday afternoon.
Detective Antonio Valentine, 42, died following the head-on collision at Crete Drive and Chambers Road in Bellefontaine Neighbors, acting St. Louis County Police Chief Kenneth Gregory confirmed during a press conference.
“Obviously, it’s a very sad day for this department to lose an officer,” said Gregory. “What, I ask of you all now is to just grieve with us. Support us, support the family for all their going through and we’ll get through this the best that we can.”
There was a somber and moving moment Thursday morning at St. Louis County Police Headquarters in Clayton. FOX 2’s crew looked on as St. Louis County Police lowered the flags in front of the headquarters to half-staff and put black bunting up around the building.
Drug Unit Detectives were conducting an investigation and attempted to stop a black Volkswagen Jetta, authorities said. The vehicle failed to stop and drove westbound on Chambers Road at a high rate of speed.
Valentine and another detective responded to the scene in an unmarked police Dodge Caravan. Moments later, at around 2:10 p.m., the Jetta crossed the center lane of traffic near the intersection of Crete Drive and struck the police SUV.
Bommarito Automotive Group SkyFOX flew over the scene and captured footage of debris scattered on the road.
There was another officer in the vehicle with Valentine. Valentine was rushed from the scene to Barnes Jewish Hospital where he died from his injuries. The other officer, who was not identified, was treated and released from the hospital.
The Jetta, which was reported stolen in October, was driven by an adult male, who was the only person in the vehicle. He was taken to an area hospital where he also died of his injuries.
Valentine was a 14-year veteran of the department and was most recently assigned to the Bureau of Drug Enforcement. He was also an Army veteran who served in Iraq and recently retired from the Air Force Reserve.
“It is with a heavy heart that we inform you of the loss of one of our officers, Antonio Valentine,” the St. Louis County Police Department tweeted, alongside a photo that showed Valentine earlier in his career. “This has shaken our department. Please pray for his family, co-workers & friends.”
In a Wednesday night tweet, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he and his wife Teresa are praying for Valentine’s family and the entire St. Louis County Police Department.
“Law enforcement officers in Missouri and throughout our nation protect us every day despite the risks,” Parson tweeted. “Officer Valentine will never be forgotten.”
A procession of police and other first responders Wednesday night escorted Valentine’s body from the hospital.
BackStoppers has now stepped in to help Valentine’s family with expenses. Valentine did have children.
Authorities are still investigating the crash and encourage anyone with information to contact the St. Louis County Police Department at 636-529-8210. To remain anonymous, contact CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371-TIP(8477).