A party involving teenagers in a downtown St. Louis building ended in gunfire, killing a 17-year-old and injuring nine others just after 1 a.m. Sunday.
Makao Moore died in the shooting, police said. All the victims ranged in age from 15 to 19. Most of the injuries were related to gunshots but police said one 17-year-old girl was apparently trampled as she ran from the scene and has serious spinal injuries. Police did not immediately release the victims’ names or their condition but detailed the injuries of those shot:
- 19-year-old male, gunshot wounds to arm, groin, legs
- 19-year-old male, gunshot wound to back
- 18-year-old male, gunshot wound to left side
- 17-year-old male, graze wound to face
- 16-year-old female, gunshot wounds to leg
- 16-year-old female, gunshot wound to lower back
- 16-year-old female, graze wound to ankle
- 15-year-old female, graze wound to left side
Police said it was unclear why shooting erupted at the party, publicized in direct messages on social media, on a floor of a building in the 1400 block of Washington Avenue that was set up as an office. Officials are still investigating and don’t yet know how the teens got into the building. Police said they haven’t had previous calls to the building.
Police found shell casings from multiple weapons and also recovered several weapons at the scene including a handgun and an AR-style weapon. St. Louis Police Chief Robert Tracy said there possibly were multiple shooters. Police have one person in custody, a juvenile and say the investigation is ongoing.
“Juveniles in possession of firearms, juveniles out at one o’clock in the morning,” Tracy said.
Some St. Louis leaders are calling for tighter gun laws in the wake of the shooting. Both St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and Tracy lamented failed efforts in the most recent legislative session to make it illegal for juveniles to own guns in Missouri.
“It should be prohibited,” Tracy said. “This is the first state and city that I’ve come to where juveniles are not prohibited. It should at least mirror the federal law. So let’s start there.”
On Sunday, U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-St. Louis County, criticized state and federal lawmakers she said are in the pocket of the National Rifle Association.
“They are choosing guns over our children,” Bush said. “They are choosing violence over safety. They are choosing death over life. We need to save lives.”
The push for a legislative solution to gun-violence is an up-hill battle for Democrats in Missouri, especially for bills related to red-flag laws which allow someone to report a person who has a gun to law enforcement if they believe the owner is a threat to themselves or others.
Rep. Peter Meredith, D-St. Louis introduced legislation in the wake of the shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School last year that ultimately did not receive a hearing.
Sen. Bill Eigel subsequently introduced legislation that would have prohibited Missouri officials from enforcing red flag laws if they were to arise, saying it was an infringement of an individual’s second amendment rights. It ultimately failed in the Senate in March.
Jones said her administration would keep fighting to enact restrictions on gun access by whatever legal means necessary — including using Missouri’s initiative petition ballot process. A push through initiative petition could amend the state constitution to include items like red-flag laws, restrictions on who could carry and how.
“We have to keep pushing,” Jones said. “We have to keep pushing and if the legislature won’t take it up, we still have the opportunity to go straight to the ballot through the initiative petition process.”
Alderman Rasheen Aldridge, 14th Ward, echoed Jones’ sentiments. “I believe the initiative petition process is a great process for the people to have a voice,” he said. “I think that is a key way that we can actually get some gun regulation done.”
On Sunday, Jones also called for more safe activities for young people in the city, saying the lack of options leads to violence.
“For our babies living in households struggling to make ends meet, where can they go to see their friends and have fun?” Jones asked. “All too often the answer leads to something dangerous and unfortunately tragic situations like this one.”
The city is now extending Friday and Saturday hours of two St. Louis recreation centers, Wohl and Marquette, to try to give teens something safe to do on weekends.
In early May, police increased patrols after an especially deadly weekend. Five people died and 17 others were injured in shootings around the city, prompting police to up the number of officers and other teams on streets, which they usually don’t do until summer. None of that weekend’s shootings happened downtown.
Tracy said Sunday there is room for improvement.
“What we’re trying to do is keep the downtown as safe as possible with large crowds,” Tracy said. “Do we get it right all the time? No, as you can see, shootings do happen sometimes. But we are making sure that we’re keeping downtown safer.”
The Board of Aldermen is considering a bill that would limit the open carry of firearms in the city, but Jones said city officials are still trying to determine if it is constitutional. Eighth Ward Alderwoman Cara Spencer introduced the legislation that would make it illegal to openly display a gun in St. Louis unless the person has a concealed carry permit from Missouri or another state. Violators could face a fine, jail time or confiscation of their weapon.
“Punishing people is not the goal,” Spencer said in May. “Really just the removal of guns, the changing of gun-carrying culture is what we’re looking for here.”
The East-West Gateway Council of Governments is also looking for solutions to the ongoing violence. The group of regional elected officials recently voted to apply to participate in a training and education session through the University of Maryland’s Violence Reduction Center.