St. Ann officer injured following police pursuit, suspects captured in series of car break-ins
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A St. Ann police officer is recovering after suspects rammed into his car during an early morning police pursuit that ended in North St. Louis City.
“He is suffering from a concussion,” said Detective Lieutenant Monica Ruelas with the St. Ann Police Department. “Recovery time, I would assume at least two weeks he’ll be home recovering and then, if need be, more than that because he’ll have follow-up.”
Ruelas tells News 4 the incident began after officers were called to reports of someone’s white sedan being broken into at around 2:30 a.m. this morning. When officers responded to the area of St. Henry Lane in St. Ann, they observed a white Hyundai sedan believed to be the stolen car.
When they attempted a traffic stop, the vehicle fled, taking officers on a pursuit to North St. Louis County just of if I-70 along North Broadway and Morin Avenue. That’s where the St. Ann officer was struck by the suspects.
“At that point when the collision occurred, the officer was attempting to deploy star chase, and the suspect vehicle merged over to the right, intentionally striking the front left driver-side area of our officer’s vehicle,” said Ruelas.
The suspects eventually crashed that car and ditched it, getting into a black Nissan Murano believed to be a personal vehicle. Other police who responded to the scene successfully stopped the car on Harlan Ave near Riverview.
Two male suspects in their early 20s, who were sitting in the front seat of the car, were detained in addition to a 12-year-old girl. As of 6 p.m. on Monday, police announced charges for one of the suspects, Michael Andrew Fleming. His charges include the following:
- Count 1: Assault 1st Degree of Attempt - Serious Physical Injury/Special Victim
- Count 2: Armed Criminal Action
- Count 3: Assault 1st Degree of Attempt - Serious Physical Injury/Special Victim
- Count 4: Armed Criminal Action
- Count 5: Resisting Arrest by Fleeing - Creating Substantial Risk of Serious Injury/Death
The girl was sent to St. Louis Family Courts, but because she did not have a prior record, she was released to family. A fourth person is believed to be still on the run.
“The suspect vehicle, both in the white sedan and their personal vehicle, there were items that were seized that belonged to the residents here in St. Ann. There were also two firearms that were recovered from the vehicle, so potentially it appears that’s what they were looking for in these cars,” said Ruelas. “Especially if residents are leaving pursues, backpacks and items on view, those are the vehicles that they’re hitting. So they’re breaking out the back window for the most part.”
Other items that were retrieved from the two cars include victims’ IDs, credit and debit cards and gift cards. Right now, police say 32 to 35 vehicles were believed to be broken into overnight, and they are still getting similar calls for property damage linked to these individuals.
“We have had some recent break-ins, not in residential areas, more in hotel parking lots. This would be our third in the last month, I would say. And the other two were at hotel parking lots,” said Ruelas. “It is a growing trend, and our officers are working day and night to try to identify the suspects and prevent this from happening.”
News 4 has been covering concerns regarding how police pursuits are conducted in jurisdictions across the Metro.
“Some crimes raise to a higher level of urgency, of course, but we still need to make sure that the training is being adhered to or the policies are being adhered to, and when a chase is called off, its called off,” said John Bowman.
Bowman is the President of the St. Louis County NAACP chapter. They, along with the St. Louis City chapter, have been critical in the past as to how police pursuits have led to the injury or death of innocent bystanders and have been trying to get city and county leaders to work together on solutions to improve safety when pursuits take place.
“Using technology, we believe we can do this in a more sensible, less harmful way,” said Bowman.
Bowman wants to see something like an Amber alert system for police pursuits be implemented, which he believes could help notify the public when police are in the midst of conducting a pursuit nearby.
Departments like St. Ann Police have been StarChase technology to their advantage, which would have been deployed if the officer was not hit.
“That’s one of the main reasons that we have that system because we do want to catch these suspects because that prevents them from continuing to victimize people. So, we are doing both trying to stop them, trying to prevent any further victims, but at the same time, we also want to protect the community and our officers,” said Ruelas. “So the StarChase system really helps us in regards to tracking those vehicles, not pursuing them, and being able to follow up later when they are at a stop or at a different location.”
St. Ann police have successfully deployed StarChase 11 times so far this year.
“At that point where StarChase is successfully deployed onto the vehicle, our policy [is] we turn our lights and sirens off. We back off from the vehicle, and we get direction of travel from our dispatchers,” said police.
Bowman says there is still a lot of room for discussion on ways jurisdictions across the Metro can improve police pursuits. This is why both local NAACP chapters will be hosting a Police Pursuit Townhall Meeting on Tuesday, June 13, at 6:00 p.m. at the Omega Center.
“To see to it that less harm is being done to the general public,” said Bowman.
The public is invited to attend, and Bowman says they have also sent out invitations to local police departments to be a part of the discussion. They also expect family members of those who have lost their lives in police pursuits to be in attendance.
The Omega Center is located at 3900 Goodfellow Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63147.
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