Police task force searching for juvenile carjackers

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 7:54 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) --The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department formed a task force in response to a rash of recent carjackings tied to a particular group of juveniles. According to Capt. Joseph Morici, the group is believed to be responsible for seven or eight carjackings.

“We are working on the suspect descriptions,” he said.

Morici said investigators believe the same group is responsible for a homicide Tuesday night. According to police reports, 38-year-old Kay Johnson was shot and killed as she sat in a car in the alley of the 4700 block of Compton. Morici said the killing is believed to have been an attempted carjacking.

Three people injured in a crash Wednesday afternoon at 20th and Delmar Avenue are believed to have ties to the juvenile carjacking group. According to SLMPD Maj. Janice Bockstruck, the car was being pursued by police after officers recognized the driver. The car was stolen in December.

Rosemary Shoemaker is a victim of recent car theft that is believed to have been the work of a juvenile thief. She said her car was stolen Friday around 5 p.m. at the Circle-K convenience store at Gravois Road and Weber Road. Shoemaker admits she left the keys in her purse, which was in her unlocked car.

“And as I’m pumping gas all of a sudden my car starts driving off from the gas station,” she said.

Shoemaker’s car was later used by juveniles who shot at police officers and others Saturday night at the City Foundry. The vehicle sped away, but Morici said the juvenile female driver was later arrested. And Shoemaker told News 4 she agreed to press charges.

Those who work with youth told News 4 teens who get involved with crime and violence usually start down that road at an early age. LaChrisa Crenshaw is the executive director of the Youth and Family Center at 818 Cass Avenue.

She said children need a sense of belonging and will follow those who provide it, even if that involves criminal behavior. At the same time, Crenshaw said, youth need to engage in activities like sports and extracurricular activities, or they may create their own activities.

She said the Youth and Family Center works hard to fill the needs of children.

“Having individuals that see their value and their worth and and are able to keep them engaged and involved in positive activities in their community,” said Crenshaw.

Crenshaw also said poverty plays a role because teens will often feel compelled to help younger siblings or a single parent financially. And she said quick cash from illegal activities can be very tempting.