City police shooting tied to Affton carjacking

Suspect killed in shootout with police in north city

City police shooting tied to Affton carjacking

By Gloria Lloyd

A man tied to an Affton shooting and carjacking later shot a St. Louis city police officer and then was fatally shot after attacking other officers and federal agents while trying to escape, police say.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Sam Dotson linked the series of events at a press conference Sunday night in the north St. Louis city neighborhood where, he said, the gunman was killed in an exchange of gunfire with officers and agents.

“What we believe is that this individual was responsible for a series of crimes that happened over the last couple of days here in St. Louis city and in St. Louis County, and when he saw the officer he became concerned that he would be recognized,” Dotson said. “And we believe he fired at the officer for that reason.”

Police say the man responsible for the crime spree and police shooting was George Bush III, 19, whose address in a previous court case is listed as the 7000 block of Winona Avenue, 63109. In that previous case, Bush was charged with a felony count of resisting arrest by fleeing and “creating a substantial risk of serious injury/death to any person.” A trial in that case was scheduled for Jan. 7.

It was the second time in a month that a carjacking in Affton led to a police shooting of a suspect in the city, following an incident in October where a carjacking suspect led police on a chase from the county to the city and was killed by police. It was also the second time in two months that a police officer was ambushed in the St. Louis region, after the shooting of county Officer Blake Snyder of the Affton Southwest Precinct Oct. 6. A teenager is charged with first-degree murder in Snyder’s killing.

The weekend’s series of events began when an Affton man, 27, reported a shooting at approximately 7:45 p.m. Saturday at the 6900 block of Creek View Trail in Affton. When officers from the Affton Southwest Precinct responded, the man told them that he was approached at his apartment complex by an unknown suspect. The suspect demanded the man’s car and shot him in the chest, then took his keys and the car, police said.

The victim was taken to a local hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries, St. Louis County Police Department spokesman Officer Benjamin Granda said.

The carjacked car from Affton was described by its owner as a tan Ford Focus with Missouri license plates DL6N2M. County police sent out a bulletin that the occupant of the car was considered armed and dangerous.

Roughly 24 hours after the Affton shooting, a 20-year veteran SLMPD sergeant, 46, was shot through the driver’s-side window of his marked police Tahoe by someone passing him in a silver car at Hampton and Pernod in St. Louis Hills.

“That individual pulled up next to the officer and started shooting at him,” Dotson said, later adding, “We believe that that individual is involved in several robberies, perhaps a carjacking and perhaps even a homicide. We believe he knew that he was good for those crimes and that we were looking for him, that’s why he aggressively attacked a police officer tonight and made it very clear that he wasn’t going to stop for officers.”

The sergeant was shot twice in the face. He was taken to a hospital and, although initially listed in critical but stable condition, was treated and released the next morning. He could not get a description of his shooter beyond seeing the silver car and muzzle flashes as the glass broke with the fired shots, Dotson said. The sergeant radioed for help, and when officers arrived at the scene, he was still strapped into his seatbelt with his gun holstered.

“This officer was driving down the road and was ambushed,” the chief said. “It’s a very dangerous job, and when an officer driving down the street is shot, it gives us all pause.”

The injured sergeant is married and has three children, Mayor Francis Slay said. The officer survived “but for the blessing of God,” Dotson said.

After the initial police shooting, the SLMPD began a “massive police operation” to find the shooter, with special-operations teams, agents from an FBI task force and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, or ATF, Dotson said. All SLMPD officers also began riding two to a car.

The suspect, identified as a black man born in 1997, is thought to be responsible for not just the police shooting and the Affton carjacking but he, along with his friends, are believed to be responsible for a series of crimes plaguing the north city neighborhood where he died, Dotson said. Soon after the police shooting, the city chief was talking to county police Chief Jon Belmar and the Missouri State Highway Patrol about links to other crimes.

Although Dotson initially said it was too early to make a connection to the other crimes, after the suspect was shot he said, “We knew this individual by name, we were looking for him for those crimes.”

Agents found the suspect’s car in a parking garage in downtown St. Louis near Laclede’s Landing, then traced the suspect to north city, where he was riding in a car driven by a woman that Dotson did not dispute was the man’s girlfriend.

When officers tried to stop the car, the suspect got out and started running at them and through an alley to the 1600 block of Smiley Avenue, where he fired through the windshield of an unmarked police car with two officers inside, Dotson said. The officers were not seriously injured.

“At that point, other officers in the neighborhood started to converge on the suspect, and he started firing at them,” Dotson said.

The suspect was killed in the gun fight, which spanned an alley, a yard and into a street but did not hit any nearby houses or citizens, the chief said. Police recovered a pistol with a high-capacity, extended magazine at the scene that they believe belonged to the suspect, along with additional ammunition.

No additional officers were injured, the SLMPD tweeted.

It is too early to determine what the girlfriend’s role in the events was, or if she was unknowingly picking up her friend, the chief said.

The St. Louis police shooting was just one of a series of line-of-duty shootings across the country over the weekend, including shootings in Kansas City suburb Gladstone, San Antonio, Texas, and Sanibel, Fla.

“We stand together,” the SLMPD posted on Facebook.

Hundreds of residents gathered at a vigil in honor of the police officer at St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church in St. Louis Hills Monday night. After a moment of silence, attendees held a mile-long blue ribbon from the church to the scene of the crime as a tribute to the injured sergeant.

“It is amazing to see so many of our citizens showing their love and support,” the SLMPD tweeted. Dotson attended the vigil to thank attendees for their support.