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DES PERES • Police said on Thursday that the off-duty officer who chased two suspected shoplifters at West County Center, firing once at them, was a St. Louis city police officer with 21 years of service.

Around noon Tuesday, the officer saw two men 18 to 25 years old wearing all black leaving a Foot Locker, according to a statement from the Des Peres Department of Public Safety. The men assaulted a store manager as they were leaving with stolen merchandise, the officer said. The off-duty officer announced he was police and tried to stop them.

The men ran into the west parking garage of the shopping center. The officer chased the men through the parking garage to their car, described as a dark grey Fiat 500X with Illinois plates. The men got in the car, "suddenly accelerated," and the officer fired one shot at the car. The car hit a parked car near the officer and then fled the scene, according to police.

The officer was not injured. 

Des Peres is investigating the incident.

The St. Louis Police Department has launched an internal investigation into the shooting.

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Department spokeswoman Officer Michelle Woodling declined to release the officer's name and said she didn't know if the shooting fell within the department's deadly force policy. That policy states that officers cannot fire at a moving vehicle and deadly force can only be used if allowing the suspect to escape could endanger someone's life.

"Since we are not involved in the investigation, we would not be able to comment on any aspect of the investigation," Woodling wrote in a statement.

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