St. Louis police say they are frustrated and angry that they are getting so little help in solving the murders of children.
Xavier Usanga, 7, became the city’s seventh homicide victim under the age of 17 this year when he was shot and killed Monday while playing outside in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Two other children have been shot and killed in cases that police are investigating as “suspicious sudden deaths.”
“We have a 7-year-old who will not be starting school today,” Maj. Mary Warnecke, the deputy commander of the department’s Bureau of Investigations, said Tuesday afternoon at a news conference steps from where Xavier was shot. “We have a 10-year-old murdered not that long ago in the city of St. Louis who will not be starting school today. We have a 2-year-old murdered on Ferris. We have a 3-year-old murdered on Michigan. And I know people know who shot and murdered these children.”
In all of 2018, four children under the age of 17 were killed.
Police have not made any arrests in this year’s child homicides, Warneke said. She’s saddened by the lack of cooperation.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and there’s a line that used to be you don’t hurt a child. And that line’s been crossed too many times,” said Warnecke, who has been with the department for 40 years. “I don’t want our region to be desensitized to these, and that’s what’s happening. This is not the norm.”
Alderman Brandon Bosley, D-3rd Ward, told residents to drop the “no-snitching” code.
“You are just as bad as the individual who pulled the trigger, if you see something that you’re not involved with and it hurts one of us and you don’t say nothing or do nothing about it,” he said.
Xavier’s grandmother, Mary Norwood, struggled to keep her composure as she talked about feeling responsible for his death. She had taught her children to take cover if they heard shooting, but hadn’t gotten a chance to pass that knowledge to Xavier.
“I kind of lost that as I got into my own life and the children grew up, and now my grandson is gone,” she said.
Xavier’s two older sisters were outside at the time of the shooting but were not hurt. Norwood said she will make sure they get counseling.
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