Crime

‘We are tired of the senseless shootings,’ outraged East St. Louis residents say

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According to data from the FBI, property and violent crimes continue to decrease in Illinois, though the violent crime's are still slightly higher than the national average.
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According to data from the FBI, property and violent crimes continue to decrease in Illinois, though the violent crime's are still slightly higher than the national average.

Residents and community leaders want the person who shot blindly at others with no regard for anything to be captured and prosecuted as police continue their second day of investigating the shooting that left a 1-year-old girl with a bullet injury to her arm.

East St. Louis Detective Sgt. Gilda Johnson said the toddler is in stable condition. She says the two people who were taken into the police department as persons of interest are still being detained, but that no one has been charged.

The father and mother of the child spoke on the condition that their names could remain anonymous.

The 26-year-old father said he wants whoever shot his daughter caught and prosecuted. He said he was just walking to the store with his daughter when the shooting occurred.

Johnson said a group of young men were standing on the corner of 10th Street and Bond Avenue near a small store there. A car came by and someone inside began shooting. The baby was shot in the arm during the hail of gunfire, she said.

The baby’s mother said it’s a sad day when you can’t walk to the store without fear of being shot or killed. She said her daughter is in stable condition.

“My baby enjoys walking to the store. Now, we are afraid to take her outside,” the mother said.

“We are tired of the senseless shootings,” the baby’s father added.

“It really became senseless when my baby became involved because she’s 1 year old,” the mother said.

Calls for peace walk

Carl Officer, a former mayor of the city, said he’s been approached to have a peace walk for the small baby.

Asked for his reaction to the shooting, Officer said, “It was absolutely horrific that a father or parent can’t take a child to the store without fear of being injured or killed.”

“I’ve been approached by a young lady and asked to assist her in getting a peace walk together for this baby. I think we need more prayer sessions,” Officer said.

Officer said he doesn’t think the problem is making people aware.

“We’ve got to approach those persons who did the shooting. Nine times out of ten they are not from Godfrey or Creve Coeur. They are local residents,” he said.

“We’ve got to engage a variety of scenarios. One is to speak to the community. It’s not snitching when you tell the truth and get people who care less about a child’s life or the community. That’s not snitching. It’s protecting our community,” Officer said.

Asked whether he was confident the East St. Louis police would find and bring to justice the shooter who injured the small child, Officer said he is.

“I have always been confident in the East St. Louis Police Department’s ability to find these people. For well over 50 years, the police department has been showing themselves to be more than competent enough to solve these kinds of cases.

Calls for more police patrols

Several young people who live in the John DeShields housing project or near the area where the shooting happened told the News-Democrat they were not fearful of the place where they live. Some said they don’t bother anybody and don’t expect anybody to bother them.

One young lady, who did not want to use her name for fear of her safety, said there’s lots of drug activity in the area. She said people shoot there all of the time, making the neighborhood unsafe. She said the police had been there the day of the shooting and had run some young men off the corner.

Resident Debra Taylor called the shooting of the baby girl “sad.”

“We need more patrols out there if they are carrying on like that. We need to try to help these young people control their attitude. And, if it’s drug-related, they are fighting over territory that doesn’t even belong to them. It’s crazy.”

Taylor said she is praying for the child and her family.

She said she wants the shooter captured, but she said, “I will also pray for him.”

Carolyn P. Smith has worked for the Belleville News-Democrat for 18 years and currently covers breaking news in the Metro-East. She graduated from the Journalism School at the University of Missouri at Columbia and says news is in her DNA.


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