St. Louis Mayor Talks Teen Crime Wave Arrests

ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones spoke about the arrests of three teenagers for this week’s violent crime wave.

The crimes include multiple auto thefts and murder. New information shows that crime related to these suspects extends well beyond the past few days.

The suspects were arrested after colliding with a stolen vehicle on 20th Street and Delmar Boulevard on the northwest edge of downtown St. Louis on Wednesday. The car’s owner told FOX 2 it was stolen from him in a car theft on Dec. 13 when a suspect held a gun to his head.

He said he now feels lucky the suspect didn’t shoot him.

Authorities believe the three arrested are part of a group that has committed at least nine robberies in South St. Louis, two ATM thefts, attempted car thefts and one murder.

The crime spree began Monday afternoon and continued Tuesday evening through early Wednesday morning. The crimes included the murder of 38-year-old Kay Johnson during an attempted car theft near her home at Compton Avenue and Delor Street just before 7 p.m. Tuesday. According to investigators, she was shot dead in front of her teenage child.

“They should be held accountable. They should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Jones said. “When you commit the crime, you pass the time.”

The suspects arrested at the scene of the stolen car accident are 18, 17 and 16-year-old men. Cameron Brown, 18, is hospitalized and will face state charges as an adult, police said. The 17-year-old remains in juvenile detention. Police confirmed the 16-year-old is being held in federal custody on adult-related charges.

Authorities took a similar approach to the theft car, robbery and murder of taxi driver Dewight Price in Hazelwood last April. A suspect, who was then a 17-year-old juvenile, is now facing federal charges as an adult in this case.

Kanisha Harris of St. Louis, a victim of the recent “teen terror,” supports the idea.

“They just ran into my car,” she said, referring to the smashed back door of her car. “I didn’t stop because they jumped out of their car with guns.”

“The root cause of crime is poverty,” Jones said.

The mayor said she is unlikely to increase the police force but advocates an increased police presence on the city’s streets. She said the key to achieving this is the continuous rerouting of the large number of calls that require a response from behavioral experts and not police officers.

“Absolutely, but I also think that someone who’s picking up a paycheck doesn’t pick up a gun,” Jones said. “So what are we doing to offer opportunities to young people who think this is their only way of survival? We must do everything we can to hug our children and break them from these lifestyles.”

She said the city’s recent $60 million infusion of ARPA funds into youth recreation, employment and violence intervention programs is St. Louis’ best bet, not a return to state control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, which currently under discussion in the state legislature. St. Louis Mayor Talks Teen Crime Wave Arrests

Sarah Y. Kim

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