East St. Louis teen found dead in field; police have no answers

News-DemocratFebruary 1, 2014 

— A 19-year-old East St. Louis man is the city's first homicide victim and police have no answers as to why he was shot to death.

The victim, Derundarae C. Smith, of 401 N. 71st St., was found in a field on the north side of 71st Street about 2:45 p.m. Saturday. He was shot in his back.

Police Chief Michael Floore said a caller phoned in to the police department to report that a man was down.

"When the officers arrived at the scene, they found Smith's body," Floore said.

Police have not identified a suspect and Floore said a motive for the shooting is not known. Illinois State Police are also helping with the investigation, Floore said.

He is calling on the community to come forward and help police.

If you have information, call the East St. Louis Police Department at 618-482-6700, Illinois State Police at 618-346-9990 or CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371-8477.

CrimeStoppers is an anonymous tip line that pays up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

The homicide comes amid the city's call for 40 days of non-violence. This campaign was put together to help end the gun violence that has plagued the city. A number of educational programs, including conflict resolutionare part of the campaign. Many of the events are at Lincoln Middle School.

Mayor Alvin Parks said he was disappointed to hear about the homicide. "And, at the same time, it continues to underscore why campaigns like 40 days of non-violence are so important," Parks said.

"It emphasizes the need to further awaken people's minds to the possibility of peaceful living."

Asked whether he is confident that the people who need to be reached will be reached, Parks said he was. "But, only if we all get out of our comfort zones and go get the people who are sometimes harder to reach and more challenging to get involved. In many cases, the people you really need to reach and change the mentality of, are less receptive," Parks said.

Parks said the police department "can't be expected to do it all."

"We gotta have people who're working to get people's minds moved in a different direction," he said.

Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.

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