WELLSTON — A police officer was fatally shot Sunday afternoon while answering a call about a customer trying to cash a bad check at Clay’s Wellston Food Market Restaurant, North County Police Cooperative Chief John Buchannan confirmed.
The officer has been identified as Michael Langsdorf, 40, who had worked for the cooperative for three months.
A suspect is in custody and a gun has been recovered, Buchannan said outside Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where Langsdorf had been taken after the shooting.
Langsdorf was called to the market, 6250 Page Avenue, around 4:30 p.m. to investigate a bad check complaint, Buchannan said. About 5 minutes later, a radio call went out for an officer down.
The person who tried to cash a bad check is the suspect in the shooting, police said.
Most of the confrontation was caught by a store surveillance camera near the counter. It showed that the encounter lasted 1 minute, 16 seconds, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
The source described the footage:
Langsdorf entered the store holding the suspect by the arm. The man appeared to be trying to leave, and Langsdorf threw him to the ground. A gun was visible in the suspect’s waistband. The two struggled on the ground beneath the store counter, out of view of the camera, for about 30 seconds. The suspect jumped up and pointed a gun at Langsdorf. Langsdorf, on his hands and knees, appeared to lunge at him. The man fired from close range.
Police from several jurisdictions were at the scene Sunday evening and were investigating the shooting.
“Our investigators are working very hard,” Buchannan said. “We have St. Louis County, St. Louis city, the prosecuting attorney’s office, Mayor (James) McGee, and many other people supporting us in this effort.”
Springdale Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Bill Modrosic remembers when Langdorf volunteered as a firefighter with that district for a couple of years. They sometimes played hockey together after Langsdorf went on to become a police officer. Modrosic said he was “speechless” about his death.
“I can’t believe it,” Modrosic said. “He was a good man, and definitely a dedicated police officer. He liked being a firefighter, but once he became a police officer it was clear that that was what he was supposed to do.”
Langsdorf formerly worked for the St. Louis police. He had been an officer for 17 years.
“Mike was incredibly passionate about police work,” said Brian Millikan, a lawyer for the St. Louis Police Officers Association. “It was his mission in life. We lost a good one today.”
The North County Police Cooperative plans to have a news conference on Monday morning.
The cooperative has been patrolling Wellston since 2015, when the city’s police department disbanded. The cooperative, based in Vinita Park, formed that summer and served four North County municipalities — Vinita Park, Vinita Terrace, Charlack and Wellston. Since then, it has at least doubled the number of cities it covers.
Langsdorf was one of four officers charged in 2017 with falsifying time sheets and getting paid for overtime they did not work. At the time, three of the officers, including Langsdorf, lived on the same street in Arnold.
The charges were dropped last year after a judge denied a city prosecutor’s request for more time to gather evidence. The officers worked for a drug task force and had been told to submit ambiguous time sheets to keep their assignment covert.
Christine Byers of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.