Police investigate condo rented out at Ely Walker Lofts prior to shooting death of 16-year-old

A shooting at the Ely Walker Lofts over the weekend marks the second homicide in the downtown area since the start of the year.
Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 7:07 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A shooting at the Ely Walker Lofts over the weekend marks the second homicide in the downtown area since the start of the year.

“This appears to be a targeted shooting,” said Dr. Daniel Isom, Director of the St. Louis Department of Public Safety.

Police say there was a party happening at a rented-out condo inside the Ely Walker Lofts off Washington Avenue the night 16-year-old Terrion Smith was shot and killed inside the lobby.

“The victim was serving as the doorman. He was in the lobby allowing guests into the elevator and to attend the party when the shooting occurred,” said Isom during a downtown public safety and engagement meeting on Monday. “We cannot confirm if the unit was rented via Airbnb. But our investigative team is looking into this.”

News 4 reached out to Airbnb. A spokesperson said they cannot comment on whether the property was listed on their site without more information on the unit number or information on who rented out the property. They are looking into whether any properties inside the building are listed on their site, but News 4 is still waiting on an update.

STL City Wide, which rents out units at Ely Walker Lofts, shared information about the unit that was rented out, but a spokesperson declined to go on the record about it.

“We have seen a correlation, I’ll say, between short-term rentals and downtown and criminal activity. We are actually further investigating that,” said LaShana Lewis.

Lewis is the Chair for the Board of Directors with the St. Louis Downtown Neighborhood Association. She says public safety leaders have been looking into legislation at the city level that could potentially put barriers on what types of short-term rentals can exist in the downtown area.

“We want to avoid as many unsavory incidents as possible. So, a lot of what we’re doing is taking our time and following models from other cities that have implemented specific short-term rental legislation in their region,” said Lewis.

Yet, overall, Lewis says the downtown area is seeing the perception of safety improve as efforts to promote big events downtown are starting to bring in larger crowds in the area. There are also ongoing efforts to have cameras, police patrols, other forms of public safety presence in the area.

“I think the summer is really going to tell us a lot about how things have changed, how well DEPSI’s (Downtown Engagement and Public Safety Initiative) different tasks and implementations have actually affected some of the crime downtown,” said Lewis.

A second person not associated with the party that was taking place inside the condo on Friday night was also in the lobby when the shooting occurred and was struck in the ankle, but he is in stable condition.

The homicide unit is working to find witnesses, video on any other evidence to aid in their investigation.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Homicide Division directly at 314-444-5371, or anyone with a tip who wants to remain anonymous and is interested in a reward can contact CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS (8477).