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ST. LOUIS COUNTY — Thomas Clement fired 11 shots at a man in the stairwell of an apartment complex early Sunday after the victim tripped over a barbecue and bumped an apartment door, police say.

Thomas Clement

Thomas Clement, charged with murder after a man tripped over a barbecue and bumped an apartment door, according to court documents.

That horrifyingly simple motive was spelled out in court papers released Monday. Clement, 30, of University City is charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the slaying west of Spanish Lake.

Thomas Clement

Thomas Clement, charged with murder after a man tripped over a barbecue and bumped an apartment door, according to court documents.

The victim is Larry Neal Jr., 31, of the 1500 block of Pepper Hill Drive in Florissant.

Neal was fatally shot about 12:20 a.m. Sunday in the 6800 block of Chesapeake Drive in unincorporated section of north St. Louis County.

St. Louis County police said Neal was walking in an apartment breezeway when he tripped on a barbecue. He fell into the door of an apartment where Clement was, police said. Neal walked away and headed up the stairway.

That's when Clement emerged from the apartment with a gun in his hand and yelled at Neal, police said.

Neal, by this time, was on the third step of the stairwell he was climbing. Clement pointed his gun at Neal. Neal turned back downstairs and reached the landing of the stairwell when Clement opened fire, police said.

Clement fired about 11 shots, police said. Neal had no weapon. Police say Neal died at a hospital.

Clement lives in the 1400 block of Lyndale Avenue in University City. St. Louis County prosecutors filed the murder charge on Sunday. Clement is being held in the St. Louis County Jail without bail.

Sgt. Benjamin Granda of the St. Louis County Police Department said he didn't know if Clement and Neal had known each other.

Second-degree murder, in Missouri, is when someone knowingly causes the death of another person, or causes death after trying to seriously injure someone. First-degree murder, meanwhile, is when someone knowingly causes the death of another person after deliberation.

Kim Bell is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.