Gunfire erupts in St. Louis park this week, as leaders address ending violence in Regional Crime Summit

A shooting in broad daylight, sent children and families running for cover Tuesday evening in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood.
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 7:07 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A shooting in broad daylight sent children and families running for cover Tuesday evening in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood.

“It was disappointing it happened on such a nice day, with a lot of kids around,” said one resident who chose to remain anonymous.

She sent a video over to News 4 of surveillance capturing the chaos as it unfolded across the street at Chouteau Park.

“It happened about 7 o’clock. It was still light outside. It was a beautiful evening. There were probably two dozen people playing in the park. Families, young kids playing in the playground. People walking their dogs and playing in the park. People jogging,” she said. “And then we hear a couple gunshots.”

“Just kind of a bam, bam, bam,” said resident Peter Monterubio. “We looked out the front and everybody was kind of stammering for their children and picking up kids in little bikes and everything.”

In the video, a person in orange that residents suspect was the one firing those shots can be seen running away from the scene towards the top of the screen.

“About 55 minutes later, police finally arrived,” said the anonymous resident. “And they were very sympathetic to the issue, but just cited they were severely understaffed and just could not respond any sooner.”

St. Louis Metropolitan Police tell News 4 they began receiving calls around 7:20 p.m. on Tuesday and a car was dispatched around 7:50 p.m. Officers canvassed the area but say no shell casings or ballistic damage were located at that time, and no victim of a shooting was located nor showed up to a hospital.

This is not the first time residents in this area have heard gunfire, but it is usually during the dark or in the alleyway.

“I have an 8-year-old son and we’re in here trying to reassure him,” said Monterubio.

This terrifying moment is among a number of instances of violent crime across the Metro region in recent weeks further demanding action.

“If we don’t address the crime that happens in the neighborhoods that surround downtown, we’ll continue to keep having this conversation,” said Mayor Tishaura Jones.

Today, elected leaders, police and business organizations from around the bi-state metro came together for the St. Louis Regional Crime Summit, uniting the bi-state under a common goal to reduce violent crime.

“They talked about team in there, and I really believe that,” said SLMPD Chief Robert Tracy. “We’re communicating and really trying to go in the right direction. St. Louis is going to get to where it needs to be, and it’s a great city and deserves this type of meeting.”

The East West Gateway Council of Governments spearheaded this summit today, bringing in esteemed experts in crime reduction like Professor Thomas Abt.

“Local elected [officials], particularly Mayor Jones, asked East West Gateway to have a convening about this incredibly important subject and East West Gateway asked me to present and talk about some collaborate, evidence informed, community informed approaches for addressing this issue of community violence.”

Abt is the Founding Director of the Violence Reduction Center and an Associate Research Professor for the Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland. He talked about how the St. Louis community can begin to set goals of reducing violent crime and homicide by at least 10 percent and aim to do this each year to start to see a difference.

“There’s basically three fundamental principles for being successful in terms of saving lives,” said Abt. “Number one, be focused. Focus on the highest risk people in the highest risk places that disproportionally contribute to the problem. The second is be balanced,” said Abt. “There has to be law enforcement, but there also has to be supports and services. And third, whatever you do has to be perceived as fair.”

Leaders also discussed fundamental root causes of violence, including housing instability, and poverty.

Chief Tracy also addressed questions following the summit as to whether this collaboration across the bi-state today means the city will seek out help from other law enforcement agencies when it comes to tackling crime. He says they are already doing this, working collaboratively during big events like Mardi Gras.

“We’re not afraid to ask for help, because I don’t want to draw a lot of officers out of the community,” said Tracy. “We’re communicating all the time. So, I’m not too sure that there’s anything more that we need to do. We just got to make sure we have the officers in the right areas and making sure that the officers we do have are working as efficiently as possible.”

As far as what is next for city and county solutions to reduce homicides and violent crime, Mayor Jones tells News 4 those discussions remain ongoing.

“We’re going to hopefully engage Thomas Abt and his organization going forward, and then we’ll still continue to have more discussion on what that looks like,” said Jones. “We also have to gather the data, a baseline of where we start, and what our tenant interventions will be and if those interventions are working.”

“We’ll basically help the local elected [officials], key stakeholders, practitioners and policy makers do what they do but do what they do even better,” said Abt.