Motive unknown in deadly Applebee's shooting; firefighter among 2 women critically injured

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Courtney Demond Washington 6/22/2020

28-year-old Courtney Demond Washington, of St. Ann, is facing multiple charges after opening fire in the St. John's Applebee's restaurant Monday night.

ST. JOHN, Mo. ( – Days after a deadly shooting inside St. John’s Applebee’s police said they still have found no connection between the alleged gunman and the three women shot.

Police said Courtney Demond Washington was charged for allegedly killing one woman and injuring two others in a shooting inside the Applebee's in the 9000 block of St. Charles Rock Road around 9:30 p.m. Monday.

Kimberly Ratliff-Penton, 46, was killed while two others were critically injured.

Ratliff-Penton's cousin, Tranisia Williams, described her as a woman who enjoyed traveling, play kickball, and loved her family. 

“You have left a husband without a wife, you’ve left parents without a daughter, you left two sons without a mother. You can’t say you’re sorry for that. We can’t bring Kim back," said Williams. “Our world is already living in times of such hurt of hateful crimes and people being killed, when does it end? When does violence end?”

Williams said her mom, Ratliff-Penton's aunt, spoke to her while she was sitting inside Applebee’s just before she was killed. 

"Young man, I forgive you. You did something very hurtful to my family, but I forgive you and I mean that wholeheartedly," said Williams. "I have to forgive you because I love God.” 

One of the other women injured was identified as Arlydia Bufford. Bufford, 20, is a volunteer firefighter with the Kinloch Fire Protection District. She had just finished an EMT training class before going to the Applebee’s. Police initially described Bufford's condition as life-threatening, but they say she improved to serious, but stable condition.

Bufford was sitting in a booth with other first responders and the other two women were sitting in a nearby booth when the gunman opened fire.

Arlydia Bufford

20-year-old firefighter Arlydia Bufford was eating at the restaurant and sitting in a booth with other first responders and the other two women were sitting in a nearby booth when the gunman opened fire.

Fire captain Darion Meeks was eating alongside Bufford and gave life-saving treatment until paramedics arrived. 

Thirteen officers in the surrounding area responded to the restaurant after the initial call in a minute and 30 seconds, said St. John’s Police Chief Robert Connell, who added the suspect was acting oddly before the shooting, including pacing around the restaurant for up to 40 minutes beforehand.

"What we do know is that the suspect then left the restaurant, came back in and as he did he brushed up against one of the waitresses and - I'm not going to give the exact quote - but basically he said things were about to get real. At that point he turned and shot the first victim and as he shot the first victim he turned to walk away, walked about 3-4 steps turned around and shot the second victim in the same booth," Connell said.

Police said bystanders inside the restaurant were able to identify the alleged gunman.

Washington was taken into custody early Tuesday morning near a residence in St. Ann and was charged with first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and three counts of armed criminal action.

There does not currently appear to be any connection between Washington and the women, according to St. John police. Police said they have yet to uncover a motive, but their investigation continues.

Applebee's sent News 4 this statement following the shooting:

“The safety of our guests and team members is a top priority, and we’re devastated about the guest incident that occurred within our restaurant. Our thoughts are with the victims’ families. We are temporarily closing the restaurant for professional cleaning and to provide team members with counseling resources and expect to reopen later this week. We will continue to cooperate with authorities and due to the ongoing police investigation we cannot comment further."

Fundraisers have been created to assist the families of Bufford and Ratliff-Penton. Click here to view Bufford's gofundme. Click here for Ratliff's fundraiser.

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