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Questions surround killing of off-duty St. Louis police officer by on-duty colleague

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An off-duty St. Louis police officer was shot and killed early Thursday when another officer “mishandled” a gun at a home in the Carondelet neighborhood, police said.

Officer Katlyn Alix

St. Louis Police Officer Katlyn Alix in a photo released by the department. She was shot and killed on Jan. 24, 2019.

The officer, Katlyn Alix, 24, was in the living room of the home of another officer who was on duty but home just before 1 a.m. when he “mishandled a firearm and shot (Alix) in the chest,” police said in a written statement Thursday morning.

Police Chief John Hayden said two male officers who were on duty went to one of their homes during their shift. Alix, who was off duty, stopped by and was shot in what Hayden called the “accidental discharge of a weapon.”

The officers then rushed Alix to the hospital, calling police dispatch to report the shooting as they drove. Alix was pronounced dead at St. Louis University Hospital.

She was killed with a revolver, not a department weapon, according to a police source. Alix and the two on-duty male officers were close and often worked together, the source said.

A gun was recovered by investigators at the scene. There was no word on why the officers were all at an officer’s home while two of them were on duty, when policy requires them to be patrolling in their assigned district. It’s not clear who owned the weapon. Hayden would not say how many shots had been fired, how many times Alix had been shot nor whether anyone was in custody.

“All that will be part of the investigation,” he said in response to questions at an early morning press conference.

The other officers were not injured in the shooting, but the officer who fired the gun at Alix was hospitalized Thursday morning after delivering Alix to the hospital, a source close to the investigation said. The department has not confirmed his status, and it wasn’t clear why he was hospitalized.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office tweeted that a prosecutor and two of her investigators had gone to the scene and had opened an investigation into the shooting. About 3:15 p.m., Gardner released a statement saying she had asked the Missouri Highway Patrol to assist with the investigation.

“This is a tragic situation,” Gardner said. “The family of Officer Alix deserves a complete, objective and thorough investigation of this incident. My office is approaching this criminal investigation with the highest level of seriousness and urgency.”

Officer Katlyn Alix

Officer Katlyn Alix in photos provided by her mother, Aimee Lyn Wahlers. Alix was killed on Jan. 24, 2019, allegedly by another St. Louis officer in a Russian roulette-like shooting.

Hayden, meanwhile, praised Alix in a statement released to the media.

“Officer Alix was an enthusiastic and energetic young woman with a bright future ahead of her,” Hayden said in an emailed statement released Thursday. “On behalf of the Metropolitan Police Department, I extend my deepest sympathies to the Alix family during this extremely difficult time. I ask the St. Louis community to keep the Alix family and the entire Metropolitan Police Department in your thoughts and prayers as we mourn this tragic loss.”

Alix joined the St. Louis Police Academy in June 2016 and graduated in January 2017. She had served in the Sixth District, and at the time of her death she was assigned to the Second District as a patrol officer.

She is survived by her husband, mother, father and sister, the department said. She married a fellow St. Louis police officer in October. He was not among those at the home when she was shot, according to multiple sources.

‘Somebody help!’

The shooting happened inside a home in the 700 block of Dover Place, where blood still stained the steps on Thursday morning.

A neighbor told the Post-Dispatch she heard a gunshot just before 1 a.m. and then someone yelling.

“Oh, my God!” the voice said. “Somebody help!”

The neighbor, who didn’t want her name used, said she went to the window and saw a male officer in uniform. He was speaking to someone, perhaps by phone or police radio, she said. “We’re at Dover and Colorado,” he said, describing the nearest intersection to the home. Then he drove away quickly in a police car, the neighbor said. A short time later, many other officers showed up on Dover, the neighbor said.

Another neighbor said on Twitter that she heard loud yelling that got her out of bed during the night. She also heard a loud thump but nothing she recognized as a gunshot.

Reached by the Post-Dispatch, she said she had spoken to investigators but said she didn’t want to speak to a reporter beyond confirming her account on Twitter, for fear of jeopardizing the investigation.

An “officer in need of aid” call went out at 12:56 a.m., according to logs of St. Louis police calls. Such a call over police radios brings assistance from any nearby officers. That call was followed by an entry about 10 minutes later reporting it as a shooting, then a request for an evidence unit.

Alix’s mother, Aimee Chadwick, said her daughter attended Holt High School in Wentzville and spent six years in the Army before joining the city police department. She declined to comment further.

Alix was a force to be reckoned with, said Taylor Rumpsa, a police dispatcher who said she had been friends with Alix for several years.

Rumpsa said the two liked to smoke cigars — something their mothers chided them about for not being ladylike.

“Fitness was a big deal for her,” Rumpsa said. “She could lift ungodly amounts of weight.”

Despite her tough exterior, Alix also was the first officer to jump out of her patrol car if she saw a group of children playing games, Rumpsa said. “She loved kids, and she’d try to shoot hoops with them, but she wasn’t very good at it.”

Rumpsa said she was in the same academy class with Alix for several months before realizing police work was not for her, so she returned to dispatching. She said Alix dominated almost every aspect of the police academy, earning a position as vice president of the class.

The male officers involved in Thursday’s shooting, both 29, have not been publicly identified. The officer who shot Alix has been on the force about a year. The other on-duty officer who was there has been with the department about two years.

The St. Louis Police Officers Association said it, along with the public, wanted to know more about what happened.

“But for now, we wait; we wonder; and we weep,” said Jeff Roorda, the union’s business manager.

Roorda said Alix “served her community and her nation with dignity and courage, both as a police officer and as a member of the military. That is how she lived, as a hero.”

Mayor Lyda Krewson expressed her sympathy to the officer’s family and friends on Twitter, calling Alix’s death “terribly sad.”

St. Louis County police also tweeted condolences. “We are sorry for your loss and here when you need us,” the tweet said.

Leah Thorsen of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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