Skateboarding community responds to death at Kiener Plaza, as police say suspect and victim were known to each other

It is a community built among a shared passion.
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 5:52 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - It is a community built among a shared passion.

“It’s a very tight community. It’s a very welcoming community,” said Owen Kelly, a St. Louis skateboarder. “Because skateboarders are different. It’s almost like an art form.”

It is a community that has each other’s back when tragedy takes one of their own.

“It was horrible. Everybody that I know was texting each other because they didn’t release the name, and everybody was scared,” said Kelly.

“That usually doesn’t happen,” said Shawn Nolen. “This is the first incident that a skater got shot for just…we don’t even know.”

Nolen has been skateboarding in St. Louis for over 17 years. He says the tragic murder of 30-year-old Darrius Mullins in Kiener Plaza on Thursday afternoon came as a shock to the community.

“For something like that to have happened out of nowhere, it makes it a little bit sketchy to be skating the way we usually skate, which is just free, and not bothering no one,” said Nolen. “Because we’re obviously skating, some people don’t like it. But, if we’re as respectful as we can, we usually can get by just hanging out. But with this situation, it changes a lot of that I’ll tell you.”

Nolen says Mullins was a relatively new skateboarder in the downtown area but quickly became known to other skateboarders.

“I’ve only talked to him briefly, but I definitely knew him and met him from being down here and skateboarding and being around us,” he said. “He must’ve just started over the last year.”

Today, St. Louis Metropolitan Police elaborated on their initial report saying the shooting was targeted. Now, they say the 17-year-old male suspect who is now in custody knew Mullins. Police did not share details of what exactly Mullins’ relationship was to the 17-year-old suspect, saying they do not have that information available or are able to release at this time. Investigators are seeking federal charges against the teen.

However, this shooting has still prompted some boarders like Nolen to reconsider their safety in the park.

“It makes me want to be prepared for a potential moment,” he said. “I know a lot of skaters who actually carry legally. Now, instead of just leaving it in the car, you never know, maybe they want it concealed on them now.”

News 4 asked police during today’s crime briefing update how police plan to ensure safety as the community gears up for Cinco de Mayo festivities at Kiener Plaza.

“We will have officers for both shifts just specifically assigned to that area. We will have skycops down there as well. And on then on the actual 5th, which is the Cinco de Mayo celebration, there will be officers down there for that as well,” said police.