EAST ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A 14-year-old boy is the latest victim of a violent 36 hours that left four men dead and three more hurt in East St. Louis.
Now, the mayor is calling for extreme measures to tackle the crime wave.
East St. Louis is about to lose some of its fighting power. Help from state and federal agencies has been making a pretty big dent in murders, but police say man hours have been cut from the crime-preventing, WAVE (Working Against Violent Elements) Task Force. In fact, WAVE was not working while any of the crimes over the past 36 hours were committed. Plus, the federally-supported “Save Our Streets” initiative ends in just four days. The mayor is now planning what he calls “extreme measures” to make up for it.
“This right here is a war,” East St. Louis Police Officer Rudy McIntire said. “This has been going on.”
The latest victim is a 14-year-old boy—a student at Yvetter Young Middle who was suspended today for scuffling at school last week.
“The mother’s a good mother,” Officer McIntire said. “What she did, she said since you are out of school for a day, cut everybody’s grass. So he had cut that grass and he was cutting [the neighbor’s] grass.”
His work was cut short when a man with an assault rifle shot him in the 1500 block of North 45th Street. Police have two people in custody. Detectives think they were after the boy’s 16-year-old brother.
Twelve hours earlier, 18-year-old Michael Barton was stabbed to death outside his home in the 800 block of North 80th Street. Police say they caught the killer when he returned with a shotgun to kill others. The suspect is expected to be charged for the crime on Tuesday.
Twelve hours before that, five men were shot, three who were killed, in a shoot out in the parking lot at Club VIP early Sunday morning.
“We’re not going to stop pushing,” East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Floore said. “We’re not going to lay down.”
Police plan to hire at least six more officers, in part, to make up for dwindling help from the state and feds. The mayor is also considering drastic changes he says will save lives.
“There are things such as limited access to being outdoors, limited access to certain types of locations, even things such as - who knows - maybe even what kinds of clothes you can wear, and what kinds of activities you can be involved in if you’re a certain age,” Mayor Parks said. “Unfortunately, we have to look at whatever will work to preserve lives.”