'Community gun' linked to almost 30 shootings in St. Louis

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by Maggie Crane

KMOV.com

Posted on February 22, 2012 at 9:31 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 24 at 4:25 AM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Criminals are hiding weapons in secret places all around St. Louis.  They're called community guns, and when countless criminals share one gun, it can make it harder to prove the actual shooter.

A case is pending in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's office right now in which the same gun that was used to shoot at a police officer has now been linked to almost 30 shootings around St. Louis.

Prosecutors say the suspect in custody said he's good for shooting at the cop but that's it.

Virgil Robinson was shot dead in March, 2008.  A month later Michael Floyd was arrested and charged with his murder.  Floyd is currently serving a life sentence without parole for Robinson's murder.  An eyewitness testified to watching Floyd shoot Robinson near the corner of Holly and Carter Streets in the O'Fallon neighborhood of North St. Louis on March 11, 2008.

But while he was behind bars, ballistics testing linked the gun he used to killing three men and injuring another.  The weapon used to kill Robinson was also tied to the shooting deaths of Anthony Woods on July 26, 2008 and Tywon Peoples on December 5, 2008 as well as a non-fatal shooting on July 14, 2008.  Prosecutors say that very weapon is still on the street tonight -- either passed among friends or left in a secret hiding place.

"It's known that it's the local, neighborhood gun and, where they have left it," St. Louis Assistant Circuit Attorney Melissa Gilliam said.  "It's known in the neighborhood that a gun is kept there for your use if you choose to go and use it."

Police also connected nine crimes to the same gun used in a July, 2008 shooting outside a South St. Louis restaurant.  All remain unsolved.

When several people use the same, community gun, it can make it difficult for police and prosecutors to prove who committed a specific crime.

"You have to know who pulled the trigger, and just because someone owns or possesses a gun doesn't mean that they were the one to pull the trigger at the time the homicide or shooting happened," Gilliam said.

Police and prosecutors then rely on witnesses, circumstantial evidence or DNA and other evidence that may be left at a crime scene.

Communal guns are becoming more common, and hiding holes abound -- abandoned homes, garbage bins, inside wheel wells -- leaving plenty of opportunity to ditch a weapon and the heat.
 

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