Suspect shot during burglary walks out of unguarded hospital

News-DemocratAugust 27, 2013 

— An East St. Louis man, who police had arrested Saturday morning after the man sustained a gunshot wound while burglarizing a business, escaped from the hospital because there were no police posted on him and hospital officials did not know he was a prisoner.

East St. Louis Detective Carlos Coleman said police received a call at 6:30 a.m. Saturday from the owner of Metro-East Towing, located at 2000 Ridge Ave., because there were two guys burglarizing it, and he requested police assistance.

The owner was on the phone talking to the dispatcher when a gunshot rang out. Police officers arrived moments later and arrested both men. One of them had been shot in the face and appeared to be in pretty bad shape, Detective Carlos Coleman said. It was not clear who fired the shot.

"We called for an ambulance and sent him to St. Louis University Hospital for treatment," Coleman said.

The men were not identified, pending charges.

When officers arrived at the hospital, they learned the man, who is in his 20s, had refused treatment and walked out of the hospital. He had caught the MetroLink and went to his girlfriend's apartment in Building 39 of the Orr Weathers Housing Complex on Missouri Avenue.

While police were at the hospital, the unnamed girlfriend of the suspect came to the hospital to check on him. She was told by police why they were involved and why her boyfriend was taken to St. Louis University Hospital.

The woman told police she had left her back door unlocked because her boyfriend had her keys and had been driving her SUV.

Coleman alerted other East St. Louis police officers to pay attention to the rear of her residence. And, one, who was sitting about a hundred yards away spotted the suspect as he entered the apartment through the rear.

He reported this information and police officers quickly surrounded the building. Coleman, who had been at the hospital, came up, walked to the door and knocked on it. He got no answer.

The suspect, meanwhile, was on the telephone calling 911 to report that a man was running down another street, wearing a hospital gown and bleeding from his face.

"He called the dispatcher several times describing himself, but saying the person was on a different street. He was trying to throw us off. We did not buy it," Coleman said.

Police used the key to the apartment, which they retrieved from the girlfriend's truck, opened the door and located the suspect hiding in the master bedroom under the bed, Coleman said.

He was arrested and questioned along with his accomplice. Both men were released pending charges, Coleman said.

The police department is taking steps to make sure that something like this does not happen again, Coleman said.

Coleman said the owner was able to catch the men on his property taking transmission and other parts because he was riding around checking his business because he has been the victim of several burglaries, Coleman said.

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