St. Clair County sees homicides increase in 2018
Authorities on Wednesday charged 17-year-old Catrell L. Dent of East St. Louis with first-degree murder in the killing of Lundy Blue, 18, as he exited a MetroLink train at Fifth and Missouri.
Dent had been held by police since Tuesday, when he went to the East St. Louis Police Department to talk about the shooting. He had been held as a juvenile but on Wednesday was charged as an adult.
Investigators with the Major Case Squad applied for warrants against Dent with the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office. Besides the murder charged, he was also charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.
Bond was set at $1 million. Dent will remain in juvenile custody until his 18th birthday before being moved to the St. Clair County Jail, if he does not post bond.
“We are happy to bring a quick resolution to this murder. The Sheriff’s Department and all of law enforcement work together to try and make citizens safe to live and travel in the metro-east wherever they go,” Sheriff Rick Watson said.
Earlier on Wednesday, several students at East St. Louis Senior High School got into a fight on campus, but the disturbance was quickly brought under control.
It’s not clear why the fight broke out, but a number of sources said students were upset over the shooting death of Blue, who was a popular senior at East St. Louis High School and an honors student.
“The underlying reason for the fight is still being investigated,” said Sydney Stigge-Kaufmann, spokeswoman for East St. Louis District 189.
When asked whether the disturbance was related to the death of Blue, the 18-year-old senior who was fatally shot after getting off a MetroLink train, she said, “I can’t verify that.”
“There was an altercation at East St. Louis Senior High School. It was broken up by security guards. We communicated, as was appropriate, with other authorities (police)“, she said.
The fight broke out at approximately 9:45 a.m. and took just a minute and a half to get under control, Stigge-Kaufmann said.
East St. Louis police removed several students from the building. A spokesman for the police department was not immediately available.
At least five people were taken to the East St Louis Police Department after the fight, pending charges, East St Louis Police Lt. Gilda Johnson said. ”Some people were at the school to release balloons in honor of the student who was killed, Lundy Blue,” she said.
“When they got there, they needed to go inside and ask for permission. While they were in there, some friends of the suspect came to the glass office door and started staring the people in the office down like they were trying to start something.”
Stigge-Kaufman said the school was placed on a soft lockdown after the fight.
Students grieve after Lundy Blue’s death
On Tuesday, a day after the fatal shooting, Stigge-Kaufman said students were grieving over the loss of their classmate, Lundy Blue, a senior at the high school.
“Lundy was well-respected by other students and teachers. He took honors-level courses and enjoyed his audio-visual classes through the Career and Technical Education Department. Lundy was also looking forward to attending college and was to participate in another college tour next week through the GEAR UP Program ,” Stigge-Kaufman said.
A crisis team was at the high school Tuesday “to provide counseling and support to students and staff during this difficult time,” Stigge-Kaufman said. “We send our sincere condolences to the family as they cope with the tragic loss of a young life.”
The Major Case Squad was immediately assembled to investigate Blue’s death. St. Clair County Sheriff’s Captain Bruce Fleshren said that while members of the Major Case Squad were working with MetroLink security and reviewing video surveillance, a 17-year old, whom they did not identify, went to the East St. Louis Police Department to talk about the murder.
“After an interview and evidence comparison, this person was taken into custody. The person of interest is a 17-year old juvenile male and he is being held at the St. Clair County Juvenile Detention Center,” Fleshren said.
That person of interest was later identified as Dent.
Police said surveillance footage shows that the suspect and another man got on a westbound train in Fairview Heights. The victim got on the train at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center. They exited the train at Fifth and Missouri. that, Blue was shot as he exited the train.
It is not clear whether police know the wherabouts of the second person, or whether he is a suspect.