EAST ST. LOUIS — A chaotic scene unfolded Friday afternoon as a gunman in an SUV shot a man who tried to escape in a car that crashed and two other vehicles collided when the suspect fled.
Police are searching for the gunman and his white Ford Expedition.
Several people were involved in the crashes, including three young children. Their medical conditions were not available Friday night. The shooting victim, whose name was not released, did not suffer life-threatening injuries.
Police Chief Michael Floore said the victim, who police believe was shot once, was not cooperating with officers.
Floore gave this account of what happened:
The shooting began behind the Snak Boxx restaurant at 1044 State St. A white Ford Expedition pulled up, and a man inside the SUV began firing at another man, who had been working behind the restaurant with the owner.
The intended target fled, running through an opening in a wooden fence at the building next door. The shooter, still driving the Expedition, followed him and continued to fire, the chief said. The victim managed to get back to the rear of the restaurant and hop into a gray Kia Sorento that had been sitting on the back lot with the keys in it. He drove away at a high rate of speed and lost control of the vehicle and slammed into a pole on Ninth Street at St. Louis Avenue.
The impact from the collision with the pole led to the vehicle going airborne, rolling over and landing on its roof. The driver got out, started running and collapsed nearby.
The Expedition collided with the rear of a car at 11th and State streets. That car then collided with another car.
A woman in the crash was seen bleeding from the right side of her head. A man in a white Grand Prix was seen holding his hand to his head until an ambulance crew arrived.
The female driver of a vehicle with three children in it was screaming at the top of her lungs that she didn't know what was going on. She banged on her car repeatedly as she screamed. She was crying profusely.
Assistant Police Chief Ronald Ike said a call reporting an accident came into the police department at 1:30 p.m. And when officers arrived, they learned they were dealing with a case involving multiple shots and crashes.
Floore said police do not have a motive for the shooting.
Cheryl Anthony, a parent educator for Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House, had just returned to the Lessie Bates parking lot when the shooting started.
She had been out delivering Christmas toys in the neighborhood.
"We heard several gunshots. It sounded like they were in succession," she said.
"It just shook me up that somebody would shoot in broad daylight on a main thoroughfare without any regards to human life," Anthony said. "I have been here 25 years and have never seen anything like that."
Tabitha Sorrell, Anthony's co-worker, said, "It was wild, crazy. We heard multiple gunshots. I screamed out, 'Call 911.' I didn't know what else we could do. This is so crazy."
Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.