St. Louis police to increase patrols after 5 killed in weekend shootings
St. Louis police plan to increase patrols after a bloody weekend in which five people died in fatal shootings and 17 others suffered injuries.
Two of the weekend’s 13 shootings happened on Cherokee Street, the neighborhood where many celebrate Cinco de Mayo festivities. Two people died Friday after someone shot them at a bar on the street. A nearby shooting wounded two people during a festival in the neighborhood the next day.
Three others died in two separate shootings in the Hyde Park neighborhood of north St. Louis.
The shootings appear to be unrelated, police said Monday.
The violent weekend prompted police to move up their summer patrols typically used during warmer months, when more shootings usually happen. St. Louis police will have more officers, SWAT units and other specialized teams on the streets starting next weekend, said St. Louis Police Maj. Ryan Cousins.
“We have to create a large presence hopefully that will deter people who are downtown or anywhere else in the city carrying weapons,” Cousins said. “We will also partner with the Sheriff Department to help us with our traffic control in our cruising detail downtown.”
Over the weekend, residents also called police with complaints of crowds and reckless driving, Cousins said.
Mayor Tishaura Jones said city officials plan to work with community organizations to intervene before gun violence happens.
"We are seeing interpersonal conflicts escalate, made deadly when paired with the flood of firearms on our streets,” Jones said in a statement. “Gun violence harms neighborhoods and families across St. Louis. ... We will continue to work alongside our community violence intervention partners to address conflicts before they erupt.”
Cousins emphasized that despite the crowds of people downtown for the weekend’s three Cardinals games at Busch Stadium, there were no shootings downtown over the weekend.
Concerns about crime and reckless driving keep people from going downtown, said 14th Ward Alderman Rasheen Aldridge.
Downtown foot traffic in St. Louis from December to February was down 38% from the same period three years ago, according to a recent study of cellphone data by researchers at the University of Toronto.
Businesses and property owners are having trouble getting permits and licenses, and a downtown commission that addresses the region’s problems could help spur more growth in the neighborhood, Aldridge said.
“I think this red tape commission will come up with some really good recommendations that we will be able to implement on the city level that will bring businesses back,” he said.
Aldridge said the city also needs to devote more resources to combating crime and slowing vehicle traffic.
St. Louis police received more than 600 calls from residents on Saturday night alone, Cousins said. More than one-fourth of those calls were from the police district that includes the Downtown and Downtown West neighborhoods.
Britny Cordera contributed to this report.