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Dellwood man charged with killing teen in Jennings; police search for second gunman

Dellwood man charged with killing teen in Jennings; police search for second gunman

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UPDATED at 11:30 a.m. Thursday with charges

JENNINGS — St. Louis County prosecutors Thursday charged a Dellwood man in connection with Wednesday's shooting death of a 17-year-old in Jennings. Police are searching for a second gunman.

Deryon Thomas, 19, was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. He is being held in lieu of $1 million cash bail. Thomas lives in the 1600 block of Chelsey Drive in Dellwood.

The victim, Caleb Smith, was gunned down Wednesday. Smith is at least the eighth child (age 17 years and younger) to die from gunshot wounds in St. Louis County this year.

At about 1 p.m. Wednesday, St. Louis County police officers were called to the 8300 block of Strathmore Place in Jennings for a report of a shooting. They found Smith dead in an alley, a few blocks from his home. Smith lived in the 7200 block of Jenwood Avenue, on the border of Jennings and Flordell Hills. He had been shot in the head.

Police have not released a possible motive for the slaying.

In court papers, police said Thomas and another man chased Smith into the alley. The other man fired multiple shots in Smith's direction while Thomas "took a knee and pointed something he had in his hand toward the direction of Caleb Smith," the court documents allege.

Cartridge casings found in the area, police said, made it clear that weapons of two different calibers were used.

The charging documents did not identify the second suspect. St. Louis County Police Officer Tracy Panus on Thursday said that police were searching for him.

Anyone with information about the killing is asked to call the St. Louis County Police Department at 636-529-8210 to speak with investigators. To remain anonymous or potentially receive a reward, tipsters can call CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371-8477.

A neighbor, Eric Gernett, said he heard what sounded like an exchange of gunfire Wednesday afternoon near his home. He was on his porch with his 2-year-old daughter at the time and took her inside. 

"I was mostly afraid because a bullet has no name," he said.

Jennings resident Linda Martin came to survey the crime scene because she has relatives who live nearby. She said she hopes people speak up to protect their community.

"When I grew up, the (house) doors could be open," she said. "There's no way in the world we could do that now."

Kim Bell of the Post-Dispatch staff contributed to this report.

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