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Man's death marks 8th time St. Louis police have fatally shot person this year

Man's death marks 8th time St. Louis police have fatally shot person this year

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UPDATED with additional detail on Mobile Reserve Unit

ST. LOUIS — A man fleeing police was shot and killed after pulling a gun and pointing it at a pursuing officer, marking the eighth time this year that a St. Louis officer has fatally shot a person, authorities said Friday.

The shooting Thursday night in the Carondelet neighborhood occurred after the suspect refused to drop his weapon, police Chief John Hayden said shortly after the incident.

Authorities on Friday identified the dead man as 24-year-old Cortez Bufford, who lived on Alaska Avenue in St. Louis. Officials had earlier said the suspect was 28.

A Mobile Reserve Unit officer stopped Bufford in a "pedestrian check" about 9:30 p.m. Thursday in the 500 block of Bates Street. Officers with Mobile Reserve wear police uniforms and drive marked police cars.

Bufford ran and an officer followed him into a gangway on the north side of Bates. Bufford tried to climb a fence and when he couldn't continue over it he pulled a gun and turned toward the officer, police said.

The officer fired several shots at Bufford, killing him.

Police recovered what they said was Bufford's firearm, a loaded Glock semiautomatic pistol with an extended magazine. Police also said they found drugs.

The officer who shot Bufford had seen his weapon but wasn't sure if Bufford fired, Hayden said. 

The officer is 35 years old and an 11-year veteran of the department.

Hayden said the Mobile Reserve officers were in the area Thursday night because of criminal activity that has occurred there. He described the neighborhood as "a heavily trafficked drug area."

According to police call logs, St. Louis officers have been called to the area of Bates Street and Virginia Avenue about 280 times this year. Those calls included checking on a suspicious person, checking if a building was secure and investigating drug activity, shootings and a rape. 

Hayden said a pedestrian check, such as what led to Thursday's confrontation, is done when an officer has "reasonable suspicion" to stop a person. 

The Police Department's Mobile Reserve Unit currently has eight police officers, two sergeants, and one lieutenant. Citywide, arrests this year made by Mobile Reserve officers have resulted in 2,152 charges, said Police Officer Michelle Woodling. Of those, 1,023 were felonies, 181 were misdemeanors and 948 were city ordinance violations. Mobile Reserve officers have seized 160 guns citywide this year, Woodling said.

On Tuesday, near the same location where police fatally shot Bufford, a 14-year-old was critically injured when he was shot. The teen suffered multiple gunshot wounds, including one to the neck, police said. 

At the Post-Dispatch's request, the Police Department released call logs Friday showing how busy the area is that Hayden said was known for criminal activity. Officers have been called to a gas station in the area, at 504 Bates Street, 289 times this year. 

Thursday's shooting was the second one that day involving city police. A St. Louis police officer shot and wounded a robbery suspect in The Grove entertainment district about 3 a.m. Hayden said the man shot in The Grove had pointed a gun at the officer, but did not fire. The 27-year-old was hit once in his right knee and collapsed in an alley behind the 4300 block of Arco Avenue. He was hospitalized in critical but stable condition. Police have not released his name.

Officer-involved shootings in the St. Louis area during 2019

These are the incidents of police officer shootings in the St. Louis area during 2019.

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