Police in St. Louis shot and killed a man who witnesses say robbed a store and began acting erratically once police arrived, including moving toward the officers the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
According to the newspaper, the shooting happened around 12:30 p.m. after a man entered the Six Stars Market, grabbed several items and left. A store employee followed the man outside and told him that he would have to pay for the items. According to witnesses, one of whom was St. Louis Alderwoman Dionne Flowers, the man then began throwing the items on the ground and into the street.
“The store owner and the alderwoman said the suspect was armed with a knife, acting erratically, pacing back and forth in the street, talking to himself,” St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson told the Post-Dispatch at the scene of the shooting.
According to several witnesses who spoke with the Post-Dispatch, once police arrived, the man, who was asked several times to get on the ground, refused. The man, who has not been identified but who the newspaper notes was 23, kept walking and reaching for his waistband, according to the newspaper.
The man began yelling, “Shoot me, kill me now,” and at one point pulled out a knife and began walking toward the officers, who, according to witnesses, took out their guns and ordered the man to drop the knife. When the man refused and continued walking toward the officers with the knife held high, they waited until he was within two to three feet before firing shots and killing the man, according to police officials who spoke with the Post-Dispatch.
“This is a lethal range for a knife,” Dotson noted of the man’s distance from police before they began firing. He also noted that the police were not injured and that they were placed on administrative duty until an investigation could be conducted, the Post-Dispatch reports.
Several protesters gathered around the shooting scene as Dotson’s press briefing quickly became an “impromptu press conference,” according to the Post-Dispatch. What started as a peaceful gathering quickly broke out with shouts of, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” as several of those gathered wanted to know why the police didn’t use their Tasers instead of shooting the man.
Dotson told them that “officers have a reasonable expectation to go home at the end of their shift.”
The chief also noted that he wanted details of the shooting to ” … be out as quickly and truthfully as possible,” the Post-Dispatch notes.
Read more at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.