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Police: Neighbors crucial to catching robbers who killed St. Louis businessman

by Maggie Crane

KMOV.com

Posted on November 24, 2010 at 10:11 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 24 at 10:56 PM

A local businessman is dead after police say robbers broke into his car lot Wednesday evening, tied him up and shot him.

It happened at Jolly Rich's used car dealership on Natural Bridge near Jennings Station Road in North St. Louis.

Police say that neighbors were key to catching the robbers in action, although too late to save Jolly Rich's life.

He was a north city icon.   The man they called "Jolly" sold used cars to customers at the corner of Natural Bridge and Cora for more than 40 years.

"I bought two cars from him when I got my income tax," Marilyn Henderson says.  "He was a real nice guy, and I hate that.  I am so sad. The neighborhood is going to miss him."

Police say he was gunned down inside his own shop while his son was right there with him.

"His son's hysterical right now," St. Louis Homicide Detective Lt. John Green says.  "We're going to try to interview him to see exactly what happened inside the store."

Neighbors called police when they saw three armed suspects enter the dealership just before 5 p.m.  Police say the gunmen tied up the owner while attempting to rob the place.  At some point, a robber shot Jolly Rich.

"Thank God for the citizens," Lt. Green says.  "If that lady hadn't called, who knows, they probably would have gotten away scott-free."

Instead, police cornered the suspects inside the store.

"They couldn't go anywhere," Lt. Green says.  "They were stuck, so they had to leave the guns in the toilet."

Three people were arrested and two handguns were recovered, but a life was taken for no apparent reason.

"It's a shame that he's been here all this time and then right here before Thanksgiving, he's killed," Lt. Green says.

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