Suspect charged after 11-year-old dies after being shot in Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood

Police believe the child may have shot himself.
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 12:27 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2023 at 5:24 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- An 11-year-old child was shot in the head Thursday morning in St. Louis’ Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood, police said. The boy died after being taken to the hospital.

Officers with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department responded to the 3100 block of Brantner around 11:30 a.m. and rushed the child, later identified as David Winston, to the hospital to get treated. He was not conscious or breathing at the time. Police then said Thursday afternoon that Winston died from his injuries.

Police said Winston shot himself. The Child Abuse unit responded after the incident.

Friday, charges were filed against Tracy Smith for endangering the welfare of a child and stealing. According to court documents, Smith admitted to owning the gun that is believed to be the one used in the shooting. He told investigators he “bought the gun from a guy on the street on the west side.” Police later found the gun had been stolen out of Bridgeton.

Smith said he kept the gun in the bedroom on a top shelf inside of a black purse. Investigators said Smith did not keep the gun in a holster or have a gun safe or gun lock.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to pronounce a child dead from a traumatic violence injury,” says Dr. Kate Forrester of Cardinal Glennon Pediatric Emergency Medicine. “I will not forget the looks on their moms’ faces or the sounds that they’ve made when I’ve had to deliver that bad news.”

According to SSM Health, 28 children have been brought to the children’s hospital for gunshot injuries since January 2023.

To help prevent another tragedy, SSM Health is giving away 11,000 gun locks on Friday as part of National Gun Violence Awareness Day. The locks will be placed in baskets for the public to pick up, no questions asked.

“I’ve seen way too many kids injured because someone put a loaded and unlocked gun somewhere where it shouldn’t be. Please get a gun lock,” says Forrester.

Winston is the 27th child victim of gun violence in the city of St. Louis in 2023, data compiled by News 4 shows. He is the fourth to die after being shot. Two 15-year-olds were shot to death, one on February 28 and another on April 5. A 17-year-old was shot and killed on February 5.