St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Two police officers were shot in the chest — but saved by their bulletproof vests — by a gunman who has barricaded himself in a home in north St. Louis County, the mayor of Bellefontaine Neighbors has told the Post-Dispatch.
A witness said a man opened fire on the officers from about 15 feet after they pepper-sprayed him in a scuffle on a front lawn.
After the shooting, an “officer-in-need-of-aid” call rallied dozens of officers from neighboring agencies who descended on the area of Chambers Road and Bellefontaine Road at about 7:30 a.m. Thursday. St. Louis County Police Officer Benjamin Granda said the county’s tactical operations unit was called to the scene.
Bellefontaine Neighbors Mayor Bob Doerr identified the injured officers as a male sergeant with 15 years’ experience and a female patrol officer. City records show she was hired in 2014.
“They were wearing their bulletproof vests, so thank God,” Doerr said. “They’re going to be okay.”
He said both officers were conscious and talking at the scene. They were both struck by at least one bullet, he said.
“This crazy guy is barricaded in his house,” Doerr said.
The mayor was still trying to get updates from police commanders, but he said the shooting may have stemmed from an overnight incident. Officers are trying to negotiate with the gunman. Police have not disclosed what type of weapon he used to shoot the officers.
Doerr said the bulletproof vests were purchased for the officers about a year ago.
A witness, Steve Jones, said he saw three police cars on Bellefontaine Road. He said the officers were “trying to reason with this guy in the front yard, and all of the sudden it was a tackle to the ground.
“Next thing I know … this guy starts to stand up, there’s pepper spray deployed from the officers, and then this guy gets up about 15 feet from the officers and starts shooting.”
Jones said, “And then when he’s done shooting, he runs a little bit and then walks to a house and goes in a house right down the street.”
Jones said he called 911.
“It looked like all three officers were down, so I didn’t know if they were able to call or not.”
Renee Sharp, who has lived in the 10100 block of Bellefontaine Road for more than 20 years, said she doesn’t know the suspected gunman. She said officers came to her door after the shooting and told her to stay indoors.
“I heard the gunfire,” she said.
She said the neighborhood is typically peaceful.
“I don’t know what is triggering this violence,” she said.
It was a dangerous morning for officers in the area. An officer patrolling Jennings was injured about 6 a.m. when a car struck the side of the officer’s squad car. The injuries appeared to be minor.
Robert Cohen of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
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