ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – Police say criminals are quick to pull their guns on cops... And that an increasingly dangerous culture is brewing on the streets of St. Louis with people who don’t fear the law.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Separtment has averaged 13 officer-involved shootings every year for the past five years.
Tuesday, they hit that number for the year, and it’s only July.
Police have pulled 17 guns from the 13 suspects in officer-involved shootings this year.
Police say every one of them was illegal, including the semi-automatic pistol police say a man pointed at them following a traffic stop Tuesday afternoon.
Police said an officer pulled over a vehicle after the driver went through a stop sign on Nebraska.
When the officer approached the car, the driver sped off. Police said officers followed the suspects and found the car abandoned with the door open near the intersection of Osage and Oregon.
Two officers searched the area on foot. One eventually spotted the suspect and chased him down an alley while the other officer circled around the street.
The officers caught up to the man in a gangway and saw he had a gun.
Police said the officers told him to drop it several times, but he refused.
That’s when one of the officers opened fire, striking the 34-year-old suspect in the arm, shoulder and buttocks.
Police said it happened in the 2800 block of Osage Street near California Avenue around 1:30 p.m.
The suspect was taken to the hospital in serious condition.
Police said they recovered the pistol he allegedly pointed at the officer.
That officer is a 30-year-old, four-year veteran of the department. He’s now on paid leave while the shooting is investigated.
A police captain says officers have the right to defend themselves, and will.
“In the cases of individuals involved in officer-involved shootings here lately, none of them have conceal carry permits, so most of them are convicted felons and have a long criminal history and are carrying weapons probably to further their criminal activity, and that’s the problem we run into,” St. Louis Metropolitan Police Captain Michael Sack said. “They’re not afraid of the police, they’re not afraid of the criminal justice system and they’re unfortunately willing to engage officers, which puts officers in a position to defend their lives.”
Police are now trying to figure out how so many guns are getting into the hands of criminals.
They’ve found so far that only a third of illegal weapons are actually stolen.
Every gun they recover is sent to the ATF for tracing and a background check.