An East St. Louis detective said “cars were driving around” the 11-year-old boy who was fatally struck in a hit-and-run Wednesday night.
Maurice Richards was crossing the street at the intersection of Post Place and State Street when he was struck by a vehicle about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. He was rushed from the scene by ambulance and taken to Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis, where he was pronounced dead.
CrimeStoppers on Thursday afternoon announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction. The CrimeStoppers number is 866-371-TIPS (8477).
Detective Jason Hicks said the driver of the vehicle did not stop. “There weren’t any skid marks at the scene, and we do not have any witnesses,” he said. “Cars were driving around the boy. The caller who reported the hit-and-run stopped and blocked the area where the boy laid.”
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Police need help from the public to identify the vehicle and the driver who struck the boy. Anyone with information is asked to call the East St. Louis Police Department at 618-482-6767.
Hicks believes someone saw something. He is urging anyone with any information to call the East St. Louis Police Department and help police to bring some relief to Richards family
“We need the public to call us with whatever information they have to help us. We want to find the driver of that vehicle,” Hicks said.
“We are pulling all of the video surveillance from the businesses in the area. We are doing everything we can to get some closure for family,” Hicks said.
Gertrude Richards, the paternal grandmother wiped away tears and trembled as she talked to a reporter about her grandson.
“I talked to him last week. We were talking about his birthday party that we were planning for June 20. We also talked about his sister who just got her first apartment. She was going to pick him up tomorrow (Friday) and have a big cook out. The big birthday party was going to be on Fathers Day. He was only 11. He was only 11,” she said, crying and wiping tears from her eyes.
Maurice attended Gordon Bush Elementary School.
One of his little buddies there, 10-year-old Taeshaun Boey said “he was a nice person. I will miss him.”
Together the two friends made plans to grow up and play basketball in the NBA.
“We use to play basketball together. He loved basketball and I do too. We promised each other that we would play in the NBA,” Boey said. It was a tough day for Boey, he said, and staff at the school agreed.
Maurice’s teacher, LaTosha Mackins said, “Maurice was quiet. He got along well with his classmates. He participated in everything. He always had a smile. He was never without it.”
The tragic news came as “a shock,” Mackins said. “It took me a minute to process it.” Maurice was always the last to arrive at the classroom door and had to be prodded to hurry. But, once there, he never entered the room without giving his teacher a hug. He carried his jacket across his shoulder. “He was a hugger,” she said recalling his presence fondly. When Maurice wore his hoodies, I would have to make him take them off. I told him he was not in uniform with the hoody. He loved a red hoody that he has. Emotions in the classroom Thursday were all over the place. Some cried. Some fondly remembered him and the person he was, Mackins said.
“Everybody wanted to sit at his desk. He was not marked absent. He was marked present. It still hasn’t hit that Maurice won’t be coming back.”
Art therapy was a good way to deal with the pain, the sorrow of losing a student, a friend, a loved one. Mackins said students colored paper cutouts that were to be of themselves and drew Maurice’s face on their paper cutouts.
East St. Louis District 189 brought it’s crisis team together to deal with an expected gamut of emotions from students and staff at Gordon Bush and other buildings in the district. Students in third, fourth and fifth grade were addressed, said Trenese Steel, principal of Gordon Bush Elementary.
She described Maurice as “a very peppy baby, very reserved, a really good kid. He loved snacks. Other students liked to be in his presence. He loved school.”
Steel learned of the tragedy Wednesday night. At 8:45 a.m. Thursday, she held a brief meeting with staff to let them know how they would approach the day. In his classroom, Steel and social workers talked about fun stuff. Students showed staff where his locker was. They did an art project to keep their minds focused on positive things.
Kim Gilliland, a member of the district’s crisis intervention team said the district has a plan in place to deal with crisis situations and once she got the call, “We wanted to make sure there was support at Gordon Bush and at the other buildings. The support includes students, staff, and any parents who might be in the buildings.
Tesha Robinson, a social worker and a member of the district’s crisis team said after it was determined that a crisis team was needed, two people went to the classroom to talk to students. “When students started to react to the news, we went to a breakout (designated) room for students to meet with support and counseling. “About 20 individual students came in and talked about different things. We gave them some coping strategies,” Robinson said.
Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503