ST. LOUIS — Two St. Louis police officers responding to a shooting call were shot themselves Saturday by a gunman who barricaded himself in a home in the Tower Grove South neighborhood, police said.
One officer was shot in the head and was “very critically” injured, police Chief John Hayden said. The other officer was shot in the leg and had a nonlife-threatening injury, police said.
The incident took place shortly before 6 p.m. in the 3700 block of Hartford Street.
The gunman ordered a family out of their residence at gunpoint and barricaded himself inside, Hayden said.
Multiple streets were closed to vehicles and pedestrians. Residents on Hartford were warned to shelter inside and SWAT officers swarmed the neighborhood. Police also put SUVs and officers armed with rifles around the residence where the suspect had retreated.
Hayden said the two officers were searching for a victim of a shooting cited in a call to police when the gunman fired on them. Police said no victim of an earlier shooting was found.
As of 8 p.m., police said, officers were negotiating with the gunman to get him to come out of the house.
Shortly after 8, some neighbors said they heard several loud popping sounds. Many more loud pops were heard beginning about 9 p.m. and continued on and off for at least a half hour.
Police officers used a bullhorn to order the suspect to leave the house. Police also said they were firing tear gas into the house.
At about 11 p.m., police were calling out: “Come on, son, you have a wife and kid” and “you gotta come out.”
Earlier, Matt Miller, who lives nearby on Hartford, said he was just sitting down for supper about 5:45 p.m. when he saw a couple of police SUVs driving up the street.
Shortly after that, he said he heard one gunshot followed by another shot. “Then a lot of cops started coming up the street,” Miller said. “Then I heard one more shot.”
Miller, who lives a few houses from where the incident took place, said he could smell the gunpowder. He said he heard officers shout into the barricaded house, giving the suspect a phone number to call and asking for the suspect’s name.
Miller said he saw 75 to 100 officers outside the house at one point.
One of the injured officers was taken to Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the other to St. Louis University Hospital. Hayden said they were the seventh and eighth officers shot in the line of duty in the city since June 1.
The officers were “trying to do their job, that’s all they’re trying to do and they’re suffering under gunfire,” the chief said. Hayden said the incidents are part of “a surge in violence” this summer and asked residents to pray for the officers.
“We’re trying to cope through a very trying summer and it’s very difficult,” Hayden said. “It’s very difficult.”
Both of the injured officers are about 29 years old, Hayden said. He said the critically wounded officer has been on the force about 3½ years.
Hayden spoke to reporters outside SLU Hospital, where the critically injured officer had been taken.
Later, the chief led a few dozen officers and others in a prayer outside the hospital.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt also was at the hospital Saturday night. He told reporters he was there to show his support for the officers and their families.
“They’re doing very dangerous work protecting all of us and they deserve that kind of respect,” Schmitt said.
Mayor Lyda Krewson, Aldermanic President Lewis Reed and Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner all tweeted messages of support for the injured officers.
Overall crime in the neighborhood has been down about 7% from the same six-month period a year ago.
David Carson and Tod Robberson of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
Updated at 11 p.m.
Two #SLMPD officers have been shot in the 3700 block of Hartford. We do not have a condition at this time.— St. Louis, MO Police (@SLMPD) August 29, 2020
Preliminary information is that the suspect is barricaded inside a nearby residence so please avoid the area.
Information will be provided as it comes available. pic.twitter.com/W2Q8lQKWjs